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Onion hacks: a Korean father’s tips and tricks for maximum efficiency

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My dad doesn’t cook much, but he’s got a knack for whipping things up whenever he’s struck with a craving — whether it’s late-night instant ramen with some frozen rice cakes thrown in, or his specialty, kalguksu (knife-cut noodles). He’ll make the dough from scratch, roll it out thinly so it can fold over itself like ribbons, and expertly cut them into neat strips of noodles. I’ve watched him do this countless times, and tried to recreate his technique in my own kitchen, but the noodles have always turned out too thick. While I can’t replicate his kalguksu, he’s taught me some useful cooking tips, particularly for the ingredient that is at the base of any good recipe: onions.

Preparation and planning are key to a Korean kitchen, which is why my parents will occasionally team up after a grocery run to chop mountains of green onions. These get saved in a giant Ziploc bag in the freezer, to be thrown into ramen and stews so there’s one less step later down the line (a Ziploc bag, not Tupperware, works best, so you can smack the bag across a hard surface to loosen up bits when you need a sprinkling). My dad also makes sure to keep a couple of accessories on hand for when he’s dicing yellow onions, which has proven to be one of the most invaluable things he’s ever taught me. He will not shed tears if he can help it, even though he is prone to dry eyes and I have him to thank for passing along those genes to me.

My dad, who prizes efficiency over most things, has taught me a handful of onion-centric kitchen hacks.
(Dami Lee / For The Times)

Onion hack comic strip by Dami Lee.
(Dami Lee / For The Times)

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they can keep well in a ziploc bag in the freezer
(Dami Lee / For The Times)

So you can toss something fresh in when you need to make your ramen less sad.
(Dami Lee / For The Times)

One man’s opinion on the best (and worst) instant ramens.

He also taught me that swim goggles will definitely protect your eyes from tearing up when you’re chopping onions
(Dami Lee / For The Times)

But in a pinch, putting saran wrap over your eyes works just as well.
(Dami Lee / For The Times)

This man is living in 3019.
(Dami Lee / For The Times)

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Dami Lee