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Old 03-04-2015, 03:53 AM   #1
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A Question of Onions...

Hi I'm looking for some advice on onions in Mexican food...

I'm trying some new salsa recipes; a roasted tomato and tomatillo, a salsa verde, and a habanero hot sauce. All the recipes, at some point, call for onion, and I know that white onion is pretty much de rigeur in Mexican cooking, but try as I might none of my local supermarkets stock white onions!

It's market day today and I'm hopeful I'll be able to pick some white onions up there, but in case I can't my question is: would it be better to substitute yellow onions (or "brown" as they're often called in the UK) or sweet onions? I have both but would like to use whichever will get closest in terms of flavour to a white onion.

Thanks in advance! :)


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Old 03-04-2015, 04:19 AM   #2
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In Texas, the small yellow onions with the brown skin are very common and a good sub for white.

Eric, Austin Texas.

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Old 03-04-2015, 04:24 AM   #3
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Also, I just thought..

I would go easy on the onions.. for me, when I make salsas, the flavor is much more about the tomatos or tomatillos, and the green chilis.
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Old 03-04-2015, 06:02 AM   #4
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I agree that yellow onions will work just fine. Chop them coarse, and cook in with the other ingredients of your salsa. You want all the veggies big enough to feel, but small enough to fit little chunks of tomato, peppers, and onion on a chip. The onion should still have just a bit of crunch, or firmness to it, but be cooked enough to make it sweet.

Hope that helps.

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Old 03-04-2015, 08:32 AM   #5
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I'd say don't worry about it. The onions are there to provide some sharpness and some oniony sweetness and crunch to the salsa, not to be the star. As long as you have a basic onion, you will be fine. I've never worried too much about using yellow, Vidalia, or white onions interchangeably in most dishes (I don't find that red onion is as readily interchangeable). I use a lot of onion when I cook, and 90% of the time it's just generic yellow onion.

When the dish calls for raw onion then I'm sometimes more picky, and for salads I will use red onion almost exclusively. On a burger I like a solid slice of raw yellow or white onion - usually yellow because that's what I always have on hand in the pantry.
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Old 03-04-2015, 10:17 AM   #6
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If you're afraid that the flavor might be too strong, soak the chopped onions in ice water for about five minutes. Then drain them well. The soaking takes some of the sharpness away.
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Old 03-04-2015, 10:24 AM   #7
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+1 on the if its cooked, probably doesnt make much of a difference.
(although, from a texture point of view, the vidalia onions are a little thicker, and may add a different texture than some of the thinner onions)

+1 soaking the chopped onions in ice water for 5 minutes to reduce sharpness. I usually do this when adding them raw into something.
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Old 03-04-2015, 12:06 PM   #8
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Welcome to DC. A great place to come to with a question. You get answers galore. If there is one thing the members here love to do, it is to help folks. These folks have eons of experience. And the majority of them are just home cooks. Some are professional chefs, but not many.

Don't forget to come back and let us know how your recipe turns out. And please bring pictures. We call that Food Porn. We drool over pics of food. Some of our members have been known to lick their monitor screen when the pic looks so appetizing.
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Old 03-04-2015, 01:23 PM   #9
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We use white, yellow and Vidalia as interchangeable onions all the time. I buy what looks the best and do not worry about the variety.
Unless you are eating an onion sandwich, I don't think you could really tell the difference.
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Old 03-04-2015, 01:30 PM   #10
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I use both white and yellow interchangeably as well. And I will add that red onions also work. DH brought home a bunch of red onions when I didn't specify what I wanted, and they work just fine in recipes both raw and cooked.

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onion, onions

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