Onions are included in many savoury dishes. Yellow onions are the most versatile; white and red onions are valued for their mildness. Shallots and spring onions (also called salad onions) are members of the onion family too. Shallots are valued for their mild, sweet flavour and are used whole in casseroles as well as sliced and chopped for all manner of dishes. Choose firm onions with a thin, papery skin.

Dice an onion

...Dice an onion

Step by step

1 Cut a small slice off the top of the onion so it can stand upright. Trim a little off the hairy part of the root but keep the root intact (as this holds the onion together when you are cutting it).

2 Stand the onion with the trimmed top surface down. Using a large, sharp knife (for onions, a small knife for shallots), cut down through the onion to halve it.

3 Peel each onion half and discard the skin. It is also a good idea to remove the first of the inner pale leaves of the onion as these tend to be leathery and do not break down during cooking.

4 Halve and peel your onion. With the flat side down and the root end away from you, slice through the onion vertically, towards the root, but not right through it (to keep it intact). For fine dice ensure the cuts are close together.

5 Slice horizontally through the onion once or twice, again not right through the root, but very close to it, keeping the knife slightly angled towards the board for safety.

6 Now move the onion so that the root end is on your left and proceed as for slicing an onion. It may be a little more difficult, but try to hold the onion together in your other hand ‘claw’ to protect your fingertips and fingernails.

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