You probably know how to use onions in burgers, wraps, salads, and sandwiches, but the trick is to know which variety will give you a better crunch and flavor. It does not matter if you are cooking French, Spanish, Indian or Italian you should know these five onions types:
1) Yellow Onion (Brown Onion) has a papery yellow skin color and white flesh. They are among the most versatile variety, used for making curries, chutneys, pasta and mirepoix. When your eyes are watering the most and the pungency of the onion is high, you know you are chopping a yellow onion. Cook it a little longer, and the onion loses its astringency, turning into a light golden brown color with a sweet taste. If the recipe does not mention the type of onion, use yellow onions as they are perfect for caramelization, cooking down or for sweating.
Ex: sauces, soups, stews, meat dishes.
2) White Onion: Standing second in versatility is the papery skin and fleshy white onion. If you consumed them in raw form, this crunchier and sharper version of the yellow onion could overpower your dish. It is usually added as minced along with other ingredients to bring down its sharp taste. In cooked form, it behaves just like the yellow onion giving a sweet and sour taste. You can substitute white onion in place of yellow onion in chutneys, curries, white sauces, pasta salads, Mexican cooking, soup and meat dishes.
3) Red Onion (Purple Onion): With a Purple skin and reddish flesh, red onions are perfect for raw consumption, used mostly in salads, sandwiches, burgers and pickling. This variety has a crunchy and mild taste but loses its color when you cook. Because of its low pungency, it does not give rich onion flavor to the dish.
4) Sweet Onion: Low sulfur and high in water content, sweet onions are less pungent than the yellow onion. It can be white or yellow in color with thin skin and larger size. Spanish onions, Maui, Walla Walla, and Vidalia are some of the examples of sweet onions. It is best consumed as raw or lightly grilled as it loses its flavor after longer cooking.
Ex: Onion Rings, French Onion Soup,
5) Shallots: Shallots, a smaller version of the onions, with its purple skin and pinkish flesh, has a sweet, pungent taste. Mostly used in French and Indian cooking as a whole, this garlic like cluster variety when used in roast recipes, stir fries, vinaigrette and mignonette recipes gives the right crunch.