My new favorite thing to eat is red onions rubbed in lime juice and doused in salt. Eating onions in their raw and fragrant state is not new for me. Onions are delicious, and rank just above garlic in terms of fucking wonderful foods that go well with everything
The supremely simple combo of onion, lime juice, and salt, however, I learned from chef Jose Enrique at his eponymous restaurant during a recent trip to Puerto Rico.
“I love just taking onions, and I either cut them really really thinly and I put them in ice water, or I cut them really thinly and I put them in salt and lime. I love doing that,” he told me. “It takes away a lot of that heavy onion we don’t like, that flavor.”
If the notion of chowing down on raw red onions til your fingers sting and your eyes smart isn’t convincing, think of it like this: a one-minute pickle made from stuff you probably have in your fridge right now.
“Red onions, salt, lime juice, and then you massage it a little bit so the salt and the lime juice break all that down. Then you’ve got pickled red onions and you can put them over anything,” Enrique said.
Enrique suggests adding them on top of steak or swordfish to cut through the savory meat. But sandwiches work, too.
The other night, for example, I chopped up a 1/2 cup of red onions, soaked them in the juice from 1/2 of a fresh-squeezed lime, and massaged about a 1/4 teaspoon of coarse sea salt into the mix. Then, I toasted a semolina roll with smoked Gouda and butter on the stove, topped it with the onions, and ate it as a simple, open-faced sandwich.
It was very good—the salty brine and bite of the onions cut through the thick, fatty flavors of butter and cheese, much like a pickle would, but with more citrus and spice than vinegary sour on the palate. (It was also very pungent.)
So if you want to make a next-level sandwich, or just change up your pickle routine, learn to love the red onion. Just remember to buy breath mints.