Tonight, I felt like young Alfredo Linguini, that garbage boy turned chef in Ratatouille. Only, I didn’t have a rat in my toque–wasn’t even wearing a toque–and I had to rely on my own senses as I minced onions with my eyes closed.
Am I insane? Have I been watching too much cooking anime? Do I plan to audition in a circus sometime soon? Truth is, I have been cooking for years but to this day, I still cannot avoiding tearing up while chopping onions. And I don’t mean trickling tears. I mean horrid torrential tears, with my nose getting in on the act. Painful tears that I can only soothe by closing my eyes. Sure, I can slice, even roughly chop an onion or two. But to mince!
Tonight, I got started on a batch of Lumpiang Shanghai, Filipino-style spring rolls. Part of my recipe is one finely chopped onion. To prepare, I decided to use three no-more-onion-tears tricks. I peeled the onion under running water, I kept a lighted candle nearby, and I wore a hospital mask (yes, laugh all you want). Onion halved. Check. Onion sliced, check. Roughly chopped. *sniff* Quick mince–nooooo! Tears!
Thankfully, I was using a trusty chef’s knife and a stable chopping board. Plus, since I was doing that see-sawing technique where I pressed one hand near the knife’s end and used the other hand to see-saw the knife across the onions, I was able to get by and chop to my ideal texture without losing any fingers.
Still, it was a battle lost. Kao – 0, Onions – 387,941! That got me thinking, there has got to be a better way to chop onions, other than using a food processor. So, I googled. Some of the tips are familiar. Some are new and wacky. Still, either way, I think it’s worth a shot.
Kao’s Onion chopping Tips
1. Peel the onion under running water.
2. Keep a lighted candle near the onion you’re chopping. This will burn off the onion fumes before they reach your nose.
3. Keep your nose covered; it’s smelling the fumes that gets you teary eyed.
Googled Tips from All Over
4. Chew a piece of gum while chopping your onion.
5. Chop the onion in half, then soak in water for 30 minutes.
6. Wear goggles.
7. Keep your mouth shut and don’t talk.
8. Refrigerate your onions.
9. Donna comments that wearing contact lenses helps cutting down the tears.
10. Tony Lou remembers reading somewhere that a bowl of water kept near your onions as you chop will attract the tear inducing fumes away.
11. Khursten suggests using a good knife and chopping really fast to cut down on chopping time.
12. Leki offers a twist to the refrigeration technique. She prepares the onion at least a day in advance (peeling, halving) then sealing it in a jar before refrigerating.
13. JB suggests using a small electric fan to blow the fumes away.
14. Mila adds that soaking an onion in milk will lessen the tears. However, you’ll probably have to consider what recipe you’re using it for because it may affect the taste.
15. thecityforever suggests slicing the ends off the onions first.
16. surrealistic recommends washing your onion before and during the process.
17. Julie says chewing bread while chopping helps lessen the tears.
18. From experience at a Mexican restaurant, Josh swears by breathing through your mouth while chopping.
Haven’t tried number 4 to 8, but have any of you guys tried it? Do you have any kitchen-tested tips that weren’t mentioned? Save my fingers! Share your tips! 😀 To those who’ve shared theirs, thanks so much.