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!

Video Web Extra!