FAQ: Which onions should I choose?
A: That depends on whether you’re looking for something spicy, sugary, or melt-in-your-mouth savory.
When it comes to spice and savor, onions are the first thing to hit the heat when I’m cooking. But choosing the right onion for the meal I’m making can get a little mysterious. I count on Stockbox for three basic onions that can really define a dish.
You can’t go wrong with a yellow onion. Not as pungent and spicy as a globe onion or a white onion, and not as sweet and sugary as a vidalia or sweet onion, the yellow onion has the most balanced, well rounded taste of the bunch. They’re at their best flavor in early to mid summer, and they are juiciest when eaten within seven days of buying. Firm onions are the least ripe, but will last longest when stored. Always choose onions with shiny skin, and keep in a cool, dark place for up to two weeks. In soups and sauces, use diced yellow onion and simmer it with butter or oil on low heat (not too fast) until it’s translucent and melt-in-your-mouth soft. This will form the base aroma of the dish, along with any garlic, ginger, carrots or celery you may add next.
Red onion is a great addition to salads, sandwiches, burgers or kebabs. They are slightly milder and sweeter than the yellow or white onions, which makes them a good choice for eating raw, or in chunks on the grill. Searing will bring out their sugary side. For the most spicy surface area, cut them thin and pile them on your favorite sandwich. But beware of adding them to your favorite casserole, as their purple color will spread throughout the dish. When cooked, they generally have the same flavor as the yellow onion.
For zesty, vegetal flavor and great texture, eat them raw as a garnish on almost anything. (They are particularly tasty with potatoes of any kind.) Cooking them will cause them to loose their mild flavor, so toss them in at the end rather simmering them at the start of your dish. As the green shoots of premature onion bulbs, green onions should be stored like other leafy greens in a vegetable crisper. They’ll last about five days before the tops dry out and become limp, but the base of the stem can still be used for cooking at this point. Or, you can store them in the freezer to boil later for soup broth.
No matter how they’re diced or sliced, a little onion will go a long way in adding delicious, savory flavor. So keep them close-by in your kitchen for when you need some last-minute marvelous!
Photos and text: Kate Bandzmer