Note: Each week Kumiko Mitarai will break down simple, but hardly ever explained, cooking techniques. The step-by-step lessons will feature corresponding recipes so you can put that basic technique into practice. This week she caramelizes onions. Take it away, Kumiko! —The Mgmt.
I used to think that browned onions and caramelized onions were pretty much the same thing. The difference is actually pretty dramatic.
Onions can be browned in just a few minutes and have a toasted, sometimes charred taste on the surface. But when onions are caramelized, they develop a deep sweetness and a beautiful amber color that goes all the way through the onion. It's an easy process, you just have to be patient. It takes about 30 minutes, even longer if you want a super deep color and flavor. But it is so worth the wait.
About the author: Kumiko writes the blog Recipe Interrupted. She believes that having a few cooking techniques under your belt can help make home cooking creative and easy, and is excited to share these basics here on her regular column Technique of the Week. A graduate of Brown University, the Institute of Culinary Education, and a mother of two hungry girls, Kumiko is always trying to keep her Brooklyn kitchen smelling of something good.