7 Tips To Saute Onions To Caramelised Perfection
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Although you might tear up while cutting onions, they are one of the vegetables that are used in our everyday lives. Onions are used in several dishes as a base for gravy. They have a pungent aroma and sweet flavour profile and are used as a culinary staple in kitchens across the world.    

Onions are often consumed raw, fried, or caramelised. Another popular way to use it in cooking is by sautéing it. For this, the sliced onions are briefly cooked in oil or butter in a pan until they are tender. However, if the process is overlooked, the onions might end up burned at the start of your preparation. To prevent this from happening, you must keep a note of the tips and tricks that help in sautéing onions, just like an expert.     

The onions can be fried to different degrees which when used in dishes elevate the overall taste and structure. For instance, when the sliced onions are fried to golden brown and have a crispy texture, they are known as birista and are used in biryani, korma, pulao. They are often used as garnish. Some onions are fried until pink or purple and are used in recipes like lemon rice. In some cases, the onions are tried until brown and are added to curries, soups, stocks, etc. In Chinese dishes, the onions are fried in high flame with minimal oil and turned into yellow colour, they remain crisp ever after the completion of the dishes like Chilly chicken, Manchurian, etc.  

  • Slice The Onions Evenly  

If you’re one of them who burns the onion while sautéing, then slicing the onions evenly is one of the best techniques to prevent them from burning. Consistent thickness ensures uniform cooking, enabling all the pieces to cook at the same rate. If the onions are sliced unevenly, it may happen that the small pieces will cook faster and become crispy or burned while the larger pieces remain undercooked. The uneven cooking can lead to an imbalance of flavours and textures in the final dish.   

  • Control The Heat  

When sautéing the onions, it is important to control the heat to prevent burning. It is essential to maintain a moderate temperature to ensure that the onions cook evenly. Keep in mind to set the flame to medium-low and adjust as necessary for gentle cooking. Onions take time to soften and caramelise gradually without burning. Note to keep a watchful eye on the heat, making slight adjustments throughout the cooking process.    

  • Use Enough Oil  

Often, people do not use enough oil for sautéing the onions, which is usually the main cause of burning the onions. It is essential to coat the bottom of the pan evenly with the oil, ensuring that there’s enough lubrication to prevent the onions from sticking to the pan. 

Besides, adequate oil also helps in distributing the heat evenly across the onions. However, keep in mind not to overdo the oil, as the onions may become greasy. Use enough oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan and create a thin film around the onions to ensure even cooking.   

  • Add Salt  

Adding salt while sautéing the onions is an effective method to prevent them from burning. When salt is added to the onions, it draws out the moisture from them, thus helping to regulate the cooking process and preventing them from caramelising too quickly. 

Moisture helps in creating a barrier between the onions and the hot pan, preventing them from sticking and burning. Besides, the addition of salt also enhances the flavour of the onions. Salt helps the onions achieve a golden brown colour.     

  • Stir Frequently  

Once you have added the sliced onions and enough oil to the pan, stir it occasionally. Keeping the onions in motion will help you to distribute heat evenly and prevent a spot from becoming too hot, thus leading to burning. Stirring helps in releasing moisture, promoting the process of caramelising the onions without being burned.    

  • Colour And Texture 

While sautéing the onions do keep a close eye on the colour and texture of the onions, which will indicate whether they are perfectly fried or not. From the pinkish colour of the onions, with even frying, caramelization takes place which enhances the flavour and sweetness of the onions. You also need to note that the onions do not become soft and mushy while frying. Once the onions achieve a light golden brown colour and crisp texture, it means that the onions are perfectly cooked.    

  • Patience Is The Key  

To master the art of cooking, being patient throughout the cooking process is the ideal option. Sautéing the onions is no exception. But cooking them on low-to-medium heat can save the onions from getting burned. If you hurry in the process, you’ll end up being disappointed with the result as the onions might get charred as against desired. Remember to take the process slowly to achieve the best outcome. Patience gives ample time for the onions to develop and impart a rich colour and become tender. Besides, patience enables you to stir the onions to as to give room for even frying of the onions.