Simple Tips: Using onions in cooking

How many meals we normally have in a day

There are three main meals a day. We call it breakfast, lunch and dinner. This set of meals is running down generation to generation. This is considered traditional meals time to a family. 

But along the way, as years went by, when people were busy with work, they chose not to take this set of traditional meals.  Then come other types of meals time such as brunch from breakfast and lunch. High tea for those who escape lunch. 

For me, I still maintain the traditional meals time. I cook breakfast for my family in the morning. It is moderate. This normally very simple Malay kuih. 

Later at 10 a.m. in the morning, I start to cook lunch for my family. Before cooking any side dish, firstly I cook rice with a rice cooker. Rice takes longer to cook compared to the side dish. 

The secret is why I cook rice before the side dish 

While I make preparation for the side dish, the rice in the rice cooker goes through a few processes to cook. In the beginning, It is only like rice soaking in the water. 

Gradually the rice water boiled and later dried. The rice expands and is soft.  The rice cooks at the same time I cook the side dishes. So in the end, the freshly cooked dish is ready to serve  with the warm steam rice. 

How onion help my cooking of side dish good to eat with rice

Rice is our  meal heritage and staple food for Malaysian. We do not eat white rice as it is. The combination of a variety of side dishes make eating rice so nice.  

We cook different side dishes everyday. There is hot, spicy, coconut milk gravy, soup, steam, stir fry, deep fry, gril and salad. 

Food preparation

In cooking for lunch, it is a heavy dish. As Malay we will eat rice and side dishes for lunch. To prepare the side dish takes longer. Firstly, I have to make a decision in the morning what to cook for the day. 

If I want to cook fish as main ingredients, I will pair the dishes with other seafood such as prawns, squid or cockles and vegetables.

On other days, I cook chicken or beef. It had to be separated. So the dish I cook has a combination of  protein, carbohydrate and vitamin.   

After that, I clean the main ingredients and put aside. Now is the time to peel the other must ingredients to make the dish tasty. 

How much is the portion of onions I used in my cooking? 

Onions are the must ingredients to have in all my side dishes. Always my portion of onions for normal daily cooking will be three small onions or shallots and two garlic. Rose onions from India is my favourite onion to use in my cooking.

I would like to tell you that all my side dishes gourmet cooking use onions for better taste. Eventually, my salad and  dip for grill fish, squid and prawn have cut raw onion  in it. It makes the taste marvellous.

How to use onion in stir fry vegetables 

Slice three small onions (shallot)  and two garlic. Preheat the oil and saute the onions, garlic and anchovies. Put in vegetables. You can use vegetables such as park choy, cabbage, beansprout, long bean, cauliflower or any vegetables you like. Stir it. Add in water and salt. Cook for three minutes.

How to use onion to make fish curry 

Slice three small onions (shallot)  and two garlic. Preheat cooking  oil. Saute curry leaves, onions, garlic and curry powder. Add coconut milk, water and salt. Mix well. Put in fish. Cook for 7 minutes.

How to use onion to make chicken  curry 

Slice three small onions (shallot),  two garlic and ginger.  Preheat cooking  oil. Saute curry leaves, onions, garlic, ginger, star anise, cinnamon and curry powder. Put in small cut chicken and mix well in the curry gravy. Add coconut milk, water and salt. Mix well. Cook for 10  minutes.

How to use onion to make beef  curry 

Slice three small onions (shallot),  two garlic and ginger.  Preheat cooking  oil. Saute curry leaves, onions, garlic, ginger, star anise, cinnamon and curry powder.  Put in beef  and mix well in the curry gravy. Cook beef until soft. Add coconut milk, water and salt. Mix well. Cook for 10  minutes.

How to use onion to make rendang 

Blend five  small onions (shallot), three garlic, lemongrass, galangal, ginger and fresh turmeric.  Preheat cooking  oil. Saute  the blended mixture. Put in beef  or chicken and mix well in the rendang mixture. Add in kerisik. Add water to cook beef or chicken until soft. Add coconut milk, water and salt. Mix well. Cook for 10  minutes.

How to use onion to make sambal

Blend three small onions (shallot),  two garlic, dried chillies and belacan. Preheat the cooking. Saute the mixture until fragrance. Add in tamarind juice, sugar and salt. Mix well.

Why must use onions in the cooking

Onions are a very important ingredient in any side dish cooking. Without onions the food tasteless. Before I prepare another main ingredient, the process of peeling on onion and garlic is the earliest  task in the kitchen.

Even though some other Malay dishes adding other ingredient such as lemongrass, galangal, turmeric, tamarind, cumin seed, coriander, fennel, cinnamon, anise star, clove, garlic and dried chillies, onions is always the ingredient in whatever dishes we cook.

If you cook while traveling, using onion only can make your dishes tasty without additional saute ingredients. Of course, when traveling you don’t have to buy much ingredients for cooking because you stay there for a short period.

Having basic ingredients such as onion helps your cooking as good as at your own kitchen at home.  

People using onions are going down generation to generation. I learned to use onions in cooking during childhood from my late mum.

She taught me the basics of cooking, while to enhance the menu of my cooking I searched my own by way of cooking in the kitchen for my family. Do  not have a habit of eating outside in order to cook more at home.

Using onions in the cooking makes the food perfect in taste. Thus family members love to eat at home and not dining in the restaurant. Thus, it develops bonding among family members and alway remembers mum’s cooking.

Remember mum’s cooking in one way longing to home sweet home. So, family bonding is still intact while they study abroad or have their own family.

They come back to the family home at least once a year to celebrate Eidul Fitri. While getting together, they have a meal cooked by mum.

Mum’s cooking alway has onions in it. So, mum’s cooking is the best.

How to keep onions at home 

I have a basket to keep my stock of onions separately from other ingredients. The onions have to be kept in open space to avoid spoilt. Sometimes, onions grow leaves if we keep them for too long. 

To avoid onion growth, leaves occurred, buy a small quantity of onion to be used for two weeks cooking. This not to waste your money and onions as well. 

I put a basket of onions outside the food pantry.

Red onions

This makes onions last longer at room temperature.  If ever the onion grows, put it in the soil  and water it twice a day. From it, grow the spring onion. You can use the spring onion in the cooking such as beef soup or soy sauce fish.     

How to make onion flakes at home

Other than mix in the cooking mixture, onion flakes give extra taste to the soup and  fried noodles. 

Slice onion and wash with salt. Filter it to dry. Deep fry  the onion until golden brown. Take it out from the oil and filter the oil. Spread the flake onion on noodle soup, beef soup, fried noodles or mix vegetable fry.

Ready made onion flakes are available in the grocery shop. You can buy ready-made onion flakes, which saves cooking time but is a bit costly.

How to make paste for cooking noodle using onions

Pound onions, garlic, chillies and dried prawn. The paste is ready. Stir fry the paste until fragrance. Put in yellow noodles and egg. Mix together. Add in soy sauce and park choy. Mix well. 

To have better taste of fried noodles, spread the onion flakes while serving.

How onion make beef soup healthy and tasty

This is a healthy and tasty way to make beef soup. Soup uses a combination of spice and herbs. The secret to making tasty soup is use more onions.

Ingredients to make beef soup 

  • ½ kilogram beef with small fat 
  • 200 gram onions 
  • 25 gram garlic 
  • 25 gram ginger
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon fennel 
  • 2 star anise 
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper 
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder 
  • Salt to taste  

Instruction: Pound fennel and pepper together. Slice onion, garlic and ginger. Put beef and all ingredients at once in the pot. Mix well and cook for 15 minutes. Add more water and boil for 1 ½ hours. Serve beef soup with onion flakes and spring onion. 

How onion make fish wrapped with pandan leaf tasty

The mackerel fish that I cooked for lunch is mixed with a lot of onions, grated coconut and pandan leaves. Fragrant and tasty to eat with rice.

Ingredients: Two fish, 1 tablespoon dried shrimp, five onions, 2 tablespoon grated coconut, one chilli, pandan leaves, turmeric powder and salt to taste.

Instructions: Marinate fish with turmeric powder and salt. Pound onion, dried shrimp, grated coconut and chilli. Mix with turmeric powder and salt in the pound ingredient. Put in the ingredients in the fish. Wrapp the fish with pandan leaves. Stir fry the fish until well cooked. Eat with plain rice.

How onion can make people get together

Just by using onions can gather the whole village for the feast especially for weddings, celebrations  or other kenduri. 

To have bonding with each other while peeling the onions is a must in Malay traditional wedding. 

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