Chopping an Onion

One of the first things I usually teach in a cooking class is how to prep vegetables — cutting onions, bell peppers, garlic, parsley — the workhorses in your kitchen.

You will hopefully be spending a lot of time in the kitchen, and so it’s really important to learn these basics. More often than not, savory recipes will call for an onion and/or an onion and garlic. You’re going to need to invest in a good quality chef’s knife because it will save you a lot of time in the long run. The best bet is an 8-inch knife, and you want one that has a little bit of “heft” in your hand.

Onions release a certain chemical that will make you cry. If you’re not going through a breakup where you’re already tearful, you have two options: one is to wear contact lenses — it provides a barrier; and  two is to break out your scuba gear and wear your goggles! Not too sexy but efficient.

Occasionally, you might run into an unruly red or sweet onion that is just too potent. No worries. Just put the sliced onions in a container and top with some ice cubes and cold water. Let the onions sit in the cold water, which will release some of their “heat.” Dry them off and use.

Here are the steps to chopping an onion:

1. Slice off each end of the onion.

2. Holding each end of a half of an onion, make two cuts horizontally, evenly spaced, toward your hand, without cutting all the way through to the other end. Normally it’s taboo to cut toward your hand while cooking, but this is an exception.

3. Rotate the onion half 90 degrees so it’s perpendicular to the first cut. Holding the onion tightly with your non-dominant hand, make even slices lengthwise.

4. Turn the onion 90 degrees again and, holding tightly with your non-slicing hand, cut crosswise into the onion, which will create diced onions.

5. If you want to make the diced onions smaller,  or need to even out possibly missed pieces of onion, place your hand over the top of the knife blade and run the knife over the onions in an up-and-down motion to finish the chopping.