Whether you call it blooming onion, gorgeous flower, or Texas rose, stir-fried whole onions are American excess at its best. It’s also naturally appropriate in Westwood, a San Francisco restaurant and bar and venue with deer antlers hanging on the walls and a mechanical bullhorn.
Here, chef Jesus Dominguez bathes a whole onion in buttermilk and coats it in seasoned flour before sending it on a journey through the deep fryer. Alliums sport crisp petals and a flavor just begging to be dunked in ranch, honey mustard, or blue cheese sauce. or all three. According to Dominguez, diners in Westwood often ask him how they can recreate these appetizers at home.
“It’s not easy to implement if you don’t have the right skills and equipment,” says the two-Michelin-star former chef at Taj Campton Place. “But it’s definitely doable for someone who loves a good fried onion blossom!”
Prepare yourself for success by starting with the yellow onion, which Dominguez favors not only for its balanced flavor, which only becomes sweeter when cooked, but for its frankly large potential to grow. In fact, according to Dominguez, only yellow onions can grow large enough to replicate this dish that can serve two or more people. Although you wouldn’t need the 18-pound that broke the previous Guinness World Record for the size of an onion, it should be easy to find a soft ball of yellow onion at around 12 ounces.
Once you have the onions, it’s time to chop them so that they bloom when you fry them. While Dominguez notes that he relies on a special onion slicer to get the job done in Westwood, if you don’t want to invest $600 in such a tool, the process is easy enough to perform with a sharp chef’s knife. Begin by removing the top end of the onion, leaving the root intact. Peel and quarter the onions from the tip to just above the roots, then turn them and cut them back into eighths, being careful not to slice the onions too far and you risk disintegration of the onions in the frying pan.
“I like to say it’s almost like cutting a cake,” Dominguez says of the perfect technique.
He also offers one last insider tip: Finishing the chop the night before allows the onions time to replenish their moisture. That way, he explains, once the onions are rusk-baked, “the onions maintain the perfect consistency”: crunchy, crunchy, and very satisfying.
Blossom fried onions in Westwood
- 1 large yellow onion
- 1 gallon vegetable oil
- 2 qt. milk
- 4 tablespoons. kosher salt divided
- 3 tablespoons. Divided ground pepper
- 1 pound all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. smoked red pepper
- 2 tsp. grainy onion
- 2 tbsp. granulated garlic
- 2 tsp. Sugar
- 2 tsp. Old Bay
- 2 tsp. Cayenne pepper
- The night before, we cut the top of the onion and peel it, leaving the root intact. Cut it into eighths without cutting all the way through the root. Chill overnight.
- The next day, heat the oil to 325°F, season the curd with 2 tablespoons of kosher salt and 2 tablespoons of ground pepper. Mix the rest of the dry ingredients and spices together to make the spiced flour.
- Dip the onions in the curd until all layers are covered. Then cover the onions with the seasoned flour, making sure that all the petals of the onion sprouts are well covered with the mixture.
- Carefully drop the rusked onions into the oil, letting the mixture sit before touching or moving the onions. Fry for 8-10 minutes, then remove and drain on paper towels. Season with salt and pepper and serve with the dipping sauce of your choice.
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