Monday, November 2, 2009
Food: Copra Onions
I love onions. I especially love caramelized onions - not the ones that are cooked until damp and floppy with sugar added, but the ones that are cooked very slowly in fat until all water has been rendered out and what's left is the natural caramelized sugars of the onion.
This means that I want an onion with the least water and the most sugars. The first seems like a lower priority - you can always cook the water out. The second is the real priority. When the water's gone, I want an intensely oniony and sweet mass of fat and utterly collapsed onions.
But "the most sugars" is a non-obvious concept. People assume that "sweet" onions like Vidalia and Walla Walla onions have more sugar, but they mostly have less sulfur. They are indeed suitable for eating raw or lightly cooked without tears, but if you're doing long, slow cooking, you don't need less sulfur - the sulfur is cooked out.
My understanding - and I can no longer find my source - is that onions with more sulfur and less water are likely to also have more sugar and thus, in the end, more flavor all around.
And Copra is one of those onions. It's described as "rock hard" and long keeping. Long keeping is about sulfur, and "rock hard" should, I believe, be about low water content.
So all this just adds up to: I want Copra onions. I don't have enough space with enough sun to grow them myself, so I'm on a quest.
Photo: Rainer Haessener. Wikimedia Commons. Click for Details.