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how to chop an onion

by Sandy Todd Webster on Mar 15, 2011

Food for Thought

If there is one basic ingredient at the heart of almost every savory dish, it is the mighty onion. However, you can’t unleash the power of this aromatic root vegetable as the base of a recipe unless you know how to chop it properly. Here is a quick primer on chopping an onion (watch the video at the end, too).

1. Start with a clean cutting board and a sharp 5- to 7-inch chef’s knife.

2. Cut the stem (pointy) end off the onion.

3. Slice lengthwise through the onion, dividing the root end in half.

4. Peel the papery skin off the half you’ll be cutting.

5. Place the onion flat-side down on the cutting board with the root end facing away from you.

6. Start at one side of the onion, and slice into it with the knife tip gliding toward the stem end. Create slices at about 1/4- to 1/8-inch intervals until you get to the other side of the onion. Be careful not to slice through the root end. The root will serve to hold everything together as you slice.

7. Turn the onion sideways on your board. Tuck fingers and thumb inward and begin slicing in the opposite direction to your original cuts, again making 1/4- to 1/8-inch slices, to fit your recipe. You’ll see a beautiful uniform dice coming away from the onion.

8. When you get to the end, discard the stem end and then chop the other half, if needed for your recipe.

Buy a bag of onions and practice (you can freeze the chopped onions or use them in recipes all week). The skill will be yours for life once you master it!

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About the Author

Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster IDEA Author/Presenter

Sandy Todd Webster is Editor in Chief of IDEA's publications, including the award-winning IDEA FITNESS JOURNAL and IDEA FOOD & NUTRITION TIPS, the industry's leading resources for fitness, wellness and nutrition professionals worldwide. Sandy joined IDEA in 2001 as executive editor of IDEA PERSONAL TRAINER and IDEA FITNESS MANAGER magazines and was promoted to lead the editorial team in 2003. More than 20 years in magazine publishing, marketing communications and creative services have shaped her straightforward approach to multi-channel communication. Early experience in Los Angeles as a sports writer/reporter, and then enriching years as a managing editor in allied health care publishing have pulled her across a spectrum of stimulating subject matter. Fitness, health and nutrition reside at the perfect center of this content continuum, she feels. A Chicago native, Sandy grew up fully engaged in various competitive sports. Her drive and dedication as an athlete translate to a disciplined work ethic and unwavering approach to challenge in her career. Shortly after graduating journalism school from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, she was recruited to L.A. for her first post in magazine publishing. After two decades of working on magazines--and now in the throes of applying the unbelieveable multi-media content delivery options available in the magazine 2.0 world--she is still "completely in love" with the creative process it takes to deliver meaningful, inspirational content to end users. She is an accomplished home cook and gardner who would love to combine those skills and passions with her health and fitness background to continue educating readers about a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle.