Known for their potent, sulfury aroma all over the world, onions make an integral part of almost all of the cuisines in the world. Raw onions have an excellent crunch that makes them ideal for salads and garnishes, however, when cooked, they become soft and a bit sweet, lending their savoury bite to the recipe to which they have been added. The characteristic smell and flavour of onion is due to the presence of a complex compound of sulphur. This compound keeps animals and insects away from onion plant. Human beings, on the other hand, prefer to eat onions precisely because of this strong smelling compound. However, the strong flavour of onions at times becomes so overpowering, especially when consumed raw, that cooks have to tame it before serving. Here are few tips that can help you make raw onions mild.
The best way to deal with the volatile sulfur aroma and taste of onions is to refrigerate them 18 to 24 hours before use. Onions are one of the non-perishable food items and can be stored in cool and dark place for months. However, chilling onions in refrigerator before slicing them helps reduce their volatility.
Use the sharpest knife to slice onions
The potent sulphur compounds get released into the air when the cell walls of the onion are cut or crushed. Use the sharpest knife, with the thinnest blade in your kitchen to slice the onions. Using a sharp knife with a thin blade causes less damage to the cell walls, releasing minimum amount of the sulphur compound into the air.
Soak onion slices in milk
Soaking sliced or chopped onion in milk for 5 to 10 minutes also helps reduce the harshness. This will extract the volatile sulphur compound created during the chopping process, leaving the onions a bit milder. Lightly-salted water also serves the same purpose as milk.
Rinse onion slices with cold water
You can also make onion slices mild by rinsing them under cold running water for a couple of minutes. This technique will wash away the sulphur compound, leaving the onions milder.
Blanch the onions
Blanching the onions is also a useful technique when it comes to taming the flavor. Pour boiling water on onions for about half a minute and then stop. After blanching, the onions will still taste raw, but they will be much milder. However, do not use this method for chopped onions, it is best used with larger slices.