Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Onion Experiment - Vaps Cooking!

The majority of my friends can attest that there is one vegetable I love more than any in my cooking arsenal and that is the humble onion.
It’s been both good (tasting) and bad (breath) to me over the years, but I have now mastered its complexities to the point where I can say that I’ve “tamed” it. Hell, my eyes don’t even water anymore when chopping them…

Growing up, I’ve seen it go into the stew pot, soup pot and frying pan. They were baked on pizza, stirred into saltfish buljol and even preserved as a pickle. When mom was living abroad she used to send us tins of Green Giant peas with tiny pearl onions inside and even now my mouth waters for them as I type. (Hmmm, guess my onion crush began pretty early, didn’t it?)

Well, I realise that today’s onions as not as pungent as the ones I grew up with. Maybe we can thank cable TV for making us aware of the other types out there that are now available in T&T, such as the yellow, white and red onions. Of the three, I love the yellow as it’s a little bit sweeter in taste. Red onion makes a beautifully striking colour contrast in salads and other vegetable dishes and the huge white ones I see at Tru Valu grocery are perfect for making onion rings or a blooming onion. (Incidentally, when liming with my girls, our order always includes crunchy deep fried onion rings as an appetizer, which I end up dipping into their marinara sauce, hahahaa!)

Today, I decided to experiment and develop a home version of my usual fried onion rings. (Yup… it’s a vaps.) I knew I didn’t want to do anything deep fried or use any eggs but I’ve been wanting to try this idea I’ve been carrying around for a baked onion ring that didn’t require you to run to the grocery for any special ingredients. Now that I’m home, doing my laundry and relaxing with my television, I think I’m going for it, cuz I feel like a nibble or two… so….

I took one good sized onion and sliced it into about 1 cm thick slices.

Separated the slices into rings…

Made my own version of “buttermilk” which was a cup of milk with 2 capfuls apple cider vinegar and 2 capfuls molasses vinegar.

I then added in a little Angostura bitters…

And a pinch of salt…

I then dropped the onions into the milk…

Then transferred them to another container for better coverage. While they soaked…

I made up a spicy coating mix: a couple tablespoons fine cornmeal, some all purpose powdered seasoning, 1 crushed Maggi bouillon cube, ¼ teaspoon chili powder and about a ¼ teaspoon of dried thyme.

Started mixing, but realised it needed some more cornmeal, plus a heaping tablespoon of seasoned breadcrumbs.

Then I lined my baking sheet with foil and sprayed it with cooking spray.

Now for the hard part, trying to coat the onion rings. Seeing that I wasn’t using eggs or even egg whites, it was tough to get the mix to stick to them…

But it stuck on – sort of!

Into the preheated 400°F oven they went for 10 minutes.

Then I made a crushed tomato dipping sauce in the meantime – don’t laugh… it’s simply a finely diced tomato, barbecue sauce, a pinch of sugar and black pepper.

After the 10 minutes they were still a bit raw-ish, so I put them back in for another 5. Unfortunately, time stretched to 10 more minutes as I started hanging out my laundry, so they baked for 20 minutes total... drat!

Still, I plated them up, and took a bite… best when hot!

All in all, they tasted pretty good and had some crunch. Some of them had dried out in the oven and were almost as thin as paper, but the ones that didn’t dry out really rocked. The flavour from the coating was very good, so much so that it will also double as a good coating for baked chicken or fish steaks, somewhat like a Shake n Bake. If you’d like that coating recipe in full, here it is…

3 tablespoons corn meal (I had Promasa on hand)
1 teaspoon all-purpose seasoning powder
1 vegetable Maggi bouillon cube (you can substitute other flavours if you like)
¼ teaspoon chilli powder
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon seasoned breadcrumbs

Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. If coating fish or poultry for baking, you can double or triple the amounts according to how much meat you’ll be cooking.

So, thus ends my onion ring experiment. I will definitely be tweaking this some more until I am totally happy with it. Sometimes with cooking, you start something with one objective but the results often take you in a different direction; thus, I now have my own version of a Shake n Bake coating to play with. Why not try it out for yourselves and let me know how your own experiment goes? In the meantime I will be prepping for my ‘Zannia’, so till then, much love and hugs, and doh forget to mind the pot!


  1. bess! imma try it. but minus de maggi and de all purpose though. will report to yuh how it eat.

  2. I'm looking forward to seeing the results of your experiment too, Q, lol. Thanks for visiting my blog. Much love! :-D

  3. how yuh mean?? you think i want to miss all these recipes?? you have to be mad!! haha!!

  4. What bacchanal is this...Halcian thas you? I tiefin yuh food!

  5. Fuh some reason I cyar comment on the cornbeef post, so I will say it here: Yuh take it and make it with that one. Cornbeef near and dear tuh mih heart.

    But yuh must try different stuff in it, like black olives, mushrooms, cauliflower or broccoli, and black fungus. A lil sweet peas could make it perfect too.

  6. Thanks Kayode! Cornbeef is a huge comfort food for me, and I am loving your ideas! Don't worry, I'm gonna bus' down some cornbeef experiments soon on the blog. I love it with green peas too! Hahahahaaaa! Well look ting! Stay tuned, man, plenty more to come! :-D