Culinary Uses Of The Spanish Onion
The Spanish union is not a specific variety of onion, but rather can be one of a number of different varieties which are usually large in size and have a mild flavor. Unlike many of the stronger or more pungent onions, the Spanish onion can often be eaten raw like an apple, with some varieties even considered as being on the sweet side.
The Spanish onion is generally a yellow onion, and in some parts of the country is simply called a yellow onion, But Spanish onions can also be white. Red onions differ from white and yellow onions primarily due to their pigmentation, but there are no red onions to be found among the varieties referred to as Spanish onions.
There are many dishes, which traditionally use white or yellow onions of the more harsh varieties, that can sometimes be dramatically improved if the Spanish onion is used as a substitute. Spicy Mexican dishes, as well as some pizza topping combinations, seem to be much more tasty when a Spanish onion is used. The mild flavor of the onion seems to stand out more in the presence of spices or pepperoni than does a stronger onion, whose flavor may clash or compete with other ingredients. The Spanish onion is widely used in American southwestern cuisine, and is often the onion of choice in Italian dishes.
Keeping Onions Fresh - Onions are always best soon after they've been prepared, but if you slice, quarter, or cube a Spanish onion, the pieces will remain fresh tasting for quite awhile if placed in a bowl, and covered with water to which a few ice cubes have been added. Most onions are fairly good keepers, the Spanish onion being no exception. If you do use half an onion, or even just a small part of an onion, keep the root section on the piece you are saving for later. It will keep much better. In fact, when slicing an onion, its best to keep the root section on and start slicing from the top. If you cut the root section off first, the onion may start to fall apart before too many slices can be made.
Tearing Problems - Even Spanish onions can bring tears to the eyes when being sliced, although they are not as bad as a number of other varieties. Some advise keeping your mouth closed and holding your breath when slicing or peeling onions, a trick that might work for a single small onion, but can become tiresome when peeling or slicing many. Slicing the onion underwater is usually easier, and another trick, which can at times keep the tears from flowing, is to have a lighted candle close by to deal with the fumes from the sulfur compounds onions contain. Just don't burn your nose.
Even more helpful when slicing a Spanish onion is to chill it first. This helps to keep the sulfur compounds somewhat inactive when first exposed to air, often long enough for you to complete the job before the fumes become bothersome. It may also be worth noting that dry onions which have been stored for sometime are much more apt to cause a tearing problem than are fresh onions, a fresh Spanish onion likely causes the fewest tearing problems of all.
There are various ways people go about attempting to reduce the harshness of some onions when preparing them for use in one dish or another. Unless the characteristic flavor of the onion in question is all important, the easiest solution might simply be one of substituting a Spanish onion. The Spanish onion is not nearly as exotic or difficult to find as the name might imply. It's simply a large, mild, almost sweet, yellow or white onion.