Crispy fried onions, shallots or garlic

This is a topping on many Vietnamese dishes. It is delicious. The crispness adds texture and during frying the sugar caramelises to provide a unique sweetness.

I think we have all burnt onions and garlic before.

There are a few tricks to perfect it.

  • The onions (garlic or shallot) must all be cut the same thickness so that they cook evenly. If you do not do this some will be burning while others are still pale. If you are doing large quantities use a food processor, otherwise a mandolin or simply a sharp knife
  • Partially dry the onions overnight. Place them on a baking sheet and leave them in a warm, dry place or in the oven, just with the light on.
  • I find canola oil is best, you can also try sunflower oil, but not olive oil.
  • DO NOT OVERHEAT the oil. I heat the oil and then as I add the onions, I turn the gas right down or off. Turn it on again if the sizzling calms down too much.
  • Cook small batches at a time. They should form a single layer in the pan or wok.
  • Use a perforated or mesh utensil to stir and remove the onions from the pan.
  • They must be dark gold but not black-brown. If they are too dark they become bitter and must be discarded.
  • Place on paper towel to drain.
  • Store in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks.
  • The oil can be strained and used for frying or roasting as it has a delicious onion flavour.
  • If they become soggy, place them in a hot oven for a few minutes to crispen.
  • Serve over salads and other cooked dishes