Caramelised onions are the most famous type of cooked onion. This makes sense, because they taste good. But there is a whole spectrum of cooked onion flavours to enjoy. Gently baked, quickly sautéed, even burnt — each preparation method has something to offer. If you haven’t tried sizzled onions, you owe it to yourself to add them to your repertoire.
Sizzled onions are not fried, but they are cooked in oil. In fact, they’re completely submerged in it. The onions can be left whole — especially little guys like pearl onions — or sliced or diced into your favourite onion shape. (I like to cut my onion into eighths, slicing root to tip, to make onion petals.) Once cut to your liking, all you have to do is put them in a pot, completely cover them in a neutral oil (or olive if you must), then place the pot on a burner set to its lowest possible setting.
Then you wait.
The onions will slowly start to sizzle, emitting tiny trails of bubbles with but a whisper of noise. It is important that you do not increase the heat; the goal is to slowly, gently cook the onions until they become melt-in-your-mouth soft. You want to be able to spread them with a butter knife. Much like caramelizing onions, you cannot rush this. Just let them sizzle away, until they turn translucent and lose all rigidity in their little cellular walls.
Once they are tender and jammy, fish them out of the pot and plate them up. They make a sweet and satisfying side dish, but they’re also quite at home on a piece of heavily buttered toast with some coarse salt. Once you’ve removed the onions from the oil, filter it — you just made onion oil, which makes an incredible vinaigrette, bread-dipping oil, and egg-frying fat (provided you can afford the eggs).
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