Blooming Onion

(March 29, 2019) Subordination is the act of giving someone or something less importance or power.

I cannot help but think about the unassuming “onion.” How many times do you walk past the produce section and do not give them a passing thought? But at the same time, they are a vital component of cookery.

But do onions have the complexity to be the star of a dish?

A blooming onion is not only mouth-watering but also a show stopper. The gorgeous, crispy onion petals that “bloom” on the plate are always a great crowd pleaser.

Following are some useful tips that will ensure a perfect blooming onion. But before we get started, let us review the science of frying for further clarity.

The definition of frying is very simple, it is any food that is cooked in hot fat. When the food is added to hot oil (usually 350 to 375 degrees), its surface dehydrates which facilitates the browning process.

In the initial moments of frying, as the surface dehydrates, it forms a crust which inhibits further oil consumption. More specifically, through a series of Maillard reactions (named after the chemist Louis Camille Maillard), the sugars and proteins break down to create complex flavors and golden-brown color.

Maintaining the correct oil temperature is key to frying. If the temperature drops too low, the crust forms slowly, allowing the food to absorb more fat and become greasy. If the oil gets too hot, the food burns on the surface before it cooks through.

Specifics add to the success of a blooming onion. To help breadcrumb coatings dry and adhere, allow the raw bread crumbs to rest for at least 15 minutes before frying the onion.

Once the blooming onion is fried, place it on a cooling rack as opposed to a plate lined with paper towels. There is nothing worse than developing a beautiful crust and have it resting on soggy paper towels.

Season the blooming onion immediately after frying, this step helps the salt stick to the fried coating.

If you decide to prepare several blooming onions, do not overcrowd the pan. Adding too many onions at one time will cause the temperature of the oil to drop.

The next time you entertain and want a unique dish to dazzle your guests, consider a blooming onion. This recipe is not difficult and is sure to make a quite an impression on your guests. Enjoy!

For the Dipping Sauce:

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 tablespoon sour cream

1 ½ teaspoons ketchup

½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon drained horseradish

¼ teaspoon paprika

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon onion powder

one to a few pinches’ cayenne pepper

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, cover and refrigerate.

* The dipping sauce is adapted from the Food Network website.

For the Blooming Onion:

1 large sweet onion

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

¾ cup unseasoned panko breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons paprika

½ teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon crushed rosemary

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons water

1 cup whole milk

1 cup buttermilk

canola oil for frying

1. Onion preparation – cut off ½-inch from the pointy stem end of the onion, then peel the entire onion. Place the onion cut-side down.

Starting ½-inch from the root of the onion, make a downward cut all the way down through the entire onion. Repeat to make four evenly spaced cuts around the onion.

Continue slicing between each section until you have 16 evenly spaced cuts. Carefully turn the onion over and use your fingers to gently separate the outer pieces.

2. Whisk the flour, panko, cayenne pepper, paprika, thyme, oregano, garlic powder, rosemary, black pepper and salt on a pie plate.

3. In a small deep bowl, whisk the eggs, water, milk and buttermilk.

4. Place the cut onion in the egg mixture, using a spoon make sure the entire surface area is covered. Allow excess to drip off.

5. Place the onion into the flour mixture. Again, using a spoon, make sure the entire surface is coated with the flour mixture.

6. Repeat dipping the onion in the egg mixture and flour mixture. The onion will be dipped a total of two times. Refrigerate while the oil is heating.

7. Heat enough canola oil to almost cover the onion in a large deep pot over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 375 degrees. If you do not have a thermometer, take a tiny piece of batter and place it in the pot of oil. If it instantly starts to sizzle, the oil is ready for frying.

8. Using a large slotted spoon or Chinese wire skimmer, carefully lower the onion into the oil, cut side down. Adjust the heat so the oil temperature stays close to 350 degrees.

Fry for 3 to 4 minutes or until the onion is golden brown and turn the onion to get the other side golden brown.

9. Place on a cooling rack for 1 minute, lightly dust with kosher salt, and serve immediately with dip.

Secret Ingredient – Tears. “Delicious tears! The heart’s own dew.”

– Letitia Elizabeth Landon

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