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Old 03-04-2015, 04:53 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, 05:19 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.

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Old 03-04-2015, 05:24 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, 07:02 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, 09:32 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, 11:17 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, 11:24 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, 01:06 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, 02:23 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, 02:30 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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Old 03-04-2015, 05:50 PM   #11
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Since a few of our members have mentioned Vidalia onions, I was wondering if the can be found in the UK.

A Vidalia onion is grown in a very small area of Georgia here. They are sort of flat and so sweet that a lot of folks eat them like they would an apple. Because the area where they grow is small compared to other onion farms, I doubt that the crop is large enough to deport any. Georgia is a fairly large state. The following will give you additional information.

Hendrix Produce Products

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Old 03-04-2015, 08:11 PM   #12
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We are fortunate to have a Mexican market a mile away, and I get our white onions there. Kayelle told me they are milder than the yellow ones.
The odd thing is the prices fluctuate from week to week, from 4 lbs for 99 cents to 2 pounds for a dollar. We keep them in a mesh bag out on the service porch.
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Old 03-05-2015, 12:06 AM   #13
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Quote:
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We are fortunate to have a Mexican market a mile away, and I get our white onions there. Kayelle told me they are milder than the yellow ones.
The odd thing is the prices fluctuate from week to week, from 4 lbs for 99 cents to 2 pounds for a dollar. We keep them in a mesh bag out on the service porch.
You have to go to a special market for white onions? I buy them at Walmart (the other 2 local grocery stores are too small to carry anything but yellow onions). I buy as little as possible at Walmart, but for some things I have no choice. I've had white onions that were significantly sharper than the average yellow, but even yellow onions can vary a lot when raw. I find that the differences tend to level out when they are cooked.
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Old 03-05-2015, 10:13 AM   #14
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I like yellow onions in cooked food & white in fresh uncooked food such a salsa. So I would just use yellow in your recipe.
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Old 03-05-2015, 05:28 PM   #15
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I'm really trying to come up with something witty, not gross, but mildly humorous to say about onions, but can't seem to think of anything. I mean, onions rubbed under the armpit, or used as mosquito repellant... It just doesn't seem witty, or funny, just crude and obnoxious. Someone has to have something funny to say about using onions.

There were two onions walking on the sidewalk beside a busy boulevard. At a particular corner, they decided to cross the street. After waiting for the stoplight to change, and the walk light to illuminate, they began to cross. Suddenly a car screeched around the corned and hit one of the onions. The uninjured onion helped his friend to the safety of the sidewalk and dialed 911. The injured onion was taken to emergency surgery at a nearby hospital. The healthy friend could hear endless crying from the surgical staff as they did their delicate work.

After some time, one of the surgeons finally came out and to the waiting room. He said to the uninjured onion, I have some good, and some bad new.

The good onion said; "Ok, doc tell me the good new first."

"The good new is that your freind is going to live."

"That's great, Doc. So what's the bad news?"

"He's going to be a vegetable for the rest of his life."

Mwahahahahahaha Ok, it wasn't that funny. But it wasn't gross either.


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Old 03-06-2015, 09:31 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Souschef View Post
We are fortunate to have a Mexican market a mile away, and I get our white onions there. Kayelle told me they are milder than the yellow ones.
The odd thing is the prices fluctuate from week to week, from 4 lbs for 99 cents to 2 pounds for a dollar. We keep them in a mesh bag out on the service porch.
That's what's so nice about the little Mexican and Asian markets - you could never get onions that price in a supermarket. I buy cilantro at a tiny little Asian market here for a fraction of the supermarket price.
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Old 03-10-2015, 10:19 AM   #17
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I use sweet onions for all dishes that call for cooked. For raw I always use red onions which as others have suggested have been soaked in cold water. I always add a pinch of sugar and salt. This seems to help bring out the 'onion' flavor while removing some of the sharpness.
Thoroughly rinsed then patted dry after soaking.
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Old 03-10-2015, 12:01 PM   #18
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I've been cooking mexican food all my life and eating it longer than that. I agree with whoever said that if you're cooking them it doesn't matter much. In Mexican markets you usually also see what looks like green onions with golf ball size bulbs. But honestly, I'm pretty sure there's no such thing as an authentic salsa; or an inauthentic one for that matter, so use what you like best. Shallots work too, by the way.
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Old 03-12-2015, 02:50 PM   #19
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Quote:
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Since a few of our members have mentioned Vidalia onions, I was wondering if the can be found in the UK.

A Vidalia onion is grown in a very small area of Georgia here. They are sort of flat and so sweet that a lot of folks eat them like they would an apple. Because the area where they grow is small compared to other onion farms, I doubt that the crop is large enough to deport any. Georgia is a fairly large state. The following will give you additional information.

Hendrix Produce Products

Not under the name Vidalia, which I believe is a protected name in the US and can't be used for similar onions grown elsewhere.

If I needed sweet, mild(ish) onions for roasting, etc., I'd probably choose "Spanish" onions. We have "brown" onions (which I think are the same as your yellow onions), white onions and red onions, plus several varieties of shallots and spring (or salad) onions, which you call scallions.
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