Tips & Tricks: How to Dice an Onion

I was recently home at my parents' house for the holidays and my mom expressed, as she has a few times in the past, a wish to have the knife skills that I learned in culinary school.

I just recently hit the one-year anniversary of my graduation from FCI (now the International Culinary Center), and truthfully, while I might handle a knife with a little more ease now, most of the knife skills (or taillage) I learned aren’t really all that applicable to home cooking. For 99% of cases, I can’t see a reason I’d want to expend the energy on perfectly cubed little veggies for a dinner at home.

The one skill I do use on a regular basis, as I told my mom, is the method for dicing onions and shallots (to ciseler in French). It seems a pretty small thing, but it is actually quite helpful to learn to do it this way, so I figured I'd go back to basics for a second and do a quick post on how-to do this. (It also just so happens that we took onion-chopping pictures ages ago.)

You begin by peeling the onion and then cut it in half through the stem side. Place an onion half flat side down and hold it in one hand with the stem facing in.

You then make horizontal cuts towards the root end, making sure to only slice about ¾ of the way through, so that the onion remains bound together at the end. This ensures that the onion is held together as long as possible, with less possibility of it sliding around. They often will slide around anyways, so be sure to keep you fingers tucked in, to avoid accidents.

How many cuts you make depends simply on how finely you want it diced.

From there you make your vertical cuts, again only slicing about ¾ of the way through.

Finally, you finish off by slicing the onion parallel to the root and you end up with a fine, even dice.

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