How To Subdue The Flavor Of Raw Onions For Salads Or Sandwiches

While chomping into a raw onion may not be as appealing as taking bites out of an apple, a surprising amount of people actually enjoy eating onions this way. People enjoy eating them on a bagel, in a salad, or just sliced plain — and there's a few solid reasons why. Onions provide a sharp contrast, both in flavor and texture, to creamy ingredients like cheese and fluffy ones like bread. And if you like strong flavors, raw onions may be for you, as these potent slices are anything but bland.     

However, there are plenty of raw onion haters out there, proving these veggies are a polarizing subject. Their juices can linger on your fingers, burn your eyes, and take over any dish they're in — not to mention give you onion breath. There is a scientific reason why onions are so controversial: The sulfoxides in onions create a strong flavor and smell. But if you want the crunch factor and taste of onions in your sandwiches and salads without overpowering the other ingredients, there is a way to accomplish this.

Soak onion slices or chunks in cold water

If the taste of onions in a sandwich or salad makes you cringe, you can use this trick to subdue their flavor before adding them to your food. All you have to do is soak the onions in cold water after slicing but before using them. Just place your onion slices in a bowl of water with ice cubes for about 15 minutes, then drain them and allow them to dry. But don't wait — this hack works best if you soak your onions immediately after you cut them.

This incredibly simple step will take the bite out of your onions while still keeping their crunchiness and flavor. Remember those sulfoxides we were talking about before? When they're immersed in water, they disperse, taking their pungent flavor and aroma with them. Using cold water specifically doesn't affect this process, but it does mean your onions will stay crispy.

To really ensure your onions come out of their bath with a mild flavor, you could try adding a tablespoon of baking soda to every cup of water you use. In addition to drawing out the sulfoxides, the baking soda will counteract sulfenic acid, which keeps bitter flavors from forming. And if you want more advice in this arena, check out these tips for cooking with onions.