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Grated Onion--A Qualitative Difference?

On a whim the other day, when I wanted onion flavor in a simmered dish, I grabbed the box grater and did some rubbing.

Upon tasting, I thought: This isn't just a little better than minced; it's a LOT better."

Anyone want to agree, disagree, disabuse, explain, expound, ponder that this may be a difference in *kind* rather than *degree*? Seems that way to me.


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  1. I've never tried grating before--what a great idea. Did you use the same amount that you would have if minced? It seems like grating might release more onion "juice," and be stronger is using the same measurement. Definitely going to try this out.

    1. Yes.

      On occasion I'll grate some onion (and as mentioned above, if using a std . box grater, it's really onion pulp and juice as the final product) into my smooth Sunday red-sauce (aka gravy/spaghetti sauce) when I don't want noticable onion bits or if putting a peeled half onion in might yield too strong of an onion flavor.

      I also use the same method when I make my sauce for my currywursts on a crusty roll.

      While sauted' onions may result in a greater depth of flavor, when you want the bite or freshness of raw onion but do not want visible pieces or have diced pieces too large where they may be unsavory if bitten into whole, grating is the way to go.

      1. I've done this when making ginger sauce or when I want onion but no detectable onion bits.

        The taste depends on the onion; I've had better success with Vidalia and other sweet onions than the plain yellow ones.

        1. I've been grating onions now for a while after reading it in a recipe for the dressing of a Vietnamese tofu and cucumber salad dish.As jjj said,it imparts so much more flavor in meat sauce and indispensable in most Asian dressings and dips.

          1. There was a Mexican restaurant we used to go more than 40 years ago and they served a salad of chopped iceberg, grated jack cheese and a salad dressing with grated onion (I think they called it "onion juice.") I remember it as being wonderful.

            1. I grate mine along with zucchini when I make zucchini pancakes.

              1. I recently discovered this too, when I wasn't in the mood for whipping out my mixee for one batch of curry. It works just as well, if not, as you say, better.

                1. I've used grated onions for decades in my standby guacamole recipe for the reasons jjjrfoodie notes, but also because that is what the recipe told me to do when I was a youngun :-). I do find you need to use much less onion when it is grated.

                  1. I do this as well. I love the onion "juice" in marinades.

                    1. I rarely grate onions unless I'm kaing latkes or something where it's required. For other purposes, am I allowed to cheat and use the grating disk on my FP or do I have to use a box grater?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Isolda

                        I've found that when I use the FP to do fine work the heat and enormous friction the machine produces at times change the texture and to me ,the actual taste of not only the onion but scallions,ginger,lemon grass ect,

                      2. Grated onion is a secret ingredient in cabbage slaws, beans, etc. Try it as a replacement for anywhere you use onions.

                        A main reason that grating increases potency is that more cell walls are pulverized, releasing the range of sulfurous compounds.

                        As to grating technique, get in touch with onion. Get a box grater. I keep a stack of cheap paper plates ( pack of 80 for a dollar), and place one under the grater. The onion gives off a lot of juice, but the plate catches it and you can bend it and direct the slurry to your appointed vessel.

                        This said in praise to all Alliums.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: FoodFuser

                          Good juice catching tip there, Fuser. You are totally correct about the potency increase as well.

                          Back in the days of my young chef career, and before the advent of food processors, I worked for a tyrant chef who requested (demanded) that I grate 5-6 very large yellow onions on a box grater for a giant batch of her (yes, a female tyrant chef) special red sauce. It was a task I dreaded, but must have done well, because I was the only one who ever had to do it...

                          I do grate onion for a number of items previously mentioned, potato pancakes, slaw, dressings, sauces where I want a smooth texture; the only issue I have is dealing with the effects of the onion's hyper-released sulfurous compounds on my eyeballs.

                          1. re: FoodFuser

                            I use the paper plate transfer method too!

                            1. re: FoodFuser

                              More on the box grater. Use the largest hole, the ones that are about 3.5 millimeters.

                              Paper plate method is also effective because you can scrape the pulp up to one side and separate the pulp from the juice, for different uses.

                              Cleanup is a breeze: just rinse the grater. The paper plate can be rinsed and put in the dish drainer, to be ready for another use.

                              1. re: FoodFuser

                                HA.... I was wondering about the paper plate thing simply because when I use one it just seems to soak up the juice and fall apart long before I've had an opportunity to finish grating, much less separating the pulp from the juice.
                                I can only deduce that 1: I grate too slowly. 2: I use quite cheap and structurally inept paper plates. 3: I'm grating too large of an onion. 4: I get distrac....... Was that the door bell,where was I?
                                In any case I use a flexible plastic cutting board that you can buy at Target and still clean it in the dishwasher .

                                1. re: Duppie

                                  #2 seems to be the main culprit, with #4 a close second. ;)

                                  Seems like you've solved the issue though, I do like flexible cutting boards for many things.

                                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                                    Thank you... now if only I can efficiently load the dishwasher to my wife's exacting standards and satisfaction....

                            2. I've been grating onions for ages, but in all honesty it was something that stemmed from laziness than anything else. It was so much quicker to grate said onions and then I discovered that, wow, this is actually good!

                              1. Grated onion is, imo, the secret to awesome Hawaiian mac salad. :) It makes a huge difference there, so I'd guess it would make a huge difference in other recipes, too.

                                3 Replies
                                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                                    Please? I'm feeling a loco moco coming on....

                                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                                      I don't really use a recipe...more like guidelines. Here are some guidelines from Hawai'i Magazine:

                                      The pasta: Cook 1 pound elbow macaroni.

                                      The flavoring: Stir in ¼ cup very finely grated onion. Not minced, chopped or sliced—grated. It should be liquidy (this is how they do it at Diner’s, a local eatery in Kalihi).

                                      The mayo: At least 2½ cups for real local style. But there are no rules, so use less if you like. Or more.

                                      The add-ins: Carrots, watercress, celery, hard-boiled eggs, pickle relish—whatever suits you.

                                      The finale: Salt and pepper, to taste. Stir well; refrigerate.



                                  2. I rarely use the grater for onions. Even if refrigerated, the sulfur gases are enough to burn my eyes. Also, since I am overly frugal, I always grate too far and slice my knuckles - especially inconvenient since I take a blood thinner. I get about the same result using the fine julienne
                                    blade on my Boerner V-slicer, whose safety guard protects my fingers.

                                    1. grated onions is also used for some Indian curries. others used sliced or diced. yes, each adds a different flavor and texture.