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.

...Slice 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 Place the onion rounded side up on the board with the root end furthest from your chopping hand. With your hand in a claw shape and the tips of your fingers bent, hold the onion lightly. Your thumb will support the root end.

5 Slice the onion in a rocking action, keeping the tip of the knife in contact with the board as you draw it down to cut through the onion.

6 As you reach the root end of the onion, turn the onion onto the largest flat side and slice again, ensuring no onion is wasted.

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