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Sweet and Sour Pearl Onions

The last in a series of posts on great side dishes for Tday. Happy Holidays to everyone!

Here’s one last easy side dish to top off your Thanksgiving feast. Not limited to Tday, these onions are great year round; I serve them alongside oxtail or shortribs, and they make a great complement to savory chicken dishes.

These onions get their sweetness from one of my favorite ingredients, silan, or date honey. Silan is darker, more viscous, and more intensely flavored than regular honey. It gives the onions a nutty quality, sweetening more gently but imparting plenty of great flavor. If you don’t have silan, feel free to use regular honey; the onions will still be tasty.

Sweet and Sour Pearl Onions

1 pound pearl onions
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons silan (date honey) or regular honey
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

This recipe happens in three steps. First, the onions are blanched and shocked so their thin skins can be easily peeled. Second, the onions are boiled until al-dente. Third, the onions are sauteed in oil and coated in the sweet-sour marinade.

Fill a medium pot halfway full of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, set a bowl of ice water on the counter. Drop onions in boiling water for about 60 seconds, then transfer immediately to ice bath to stop cooking. When onions are cool enough to handle, peel skins; they should come right off.

Empty pot and refill with clean water. Return to a boil, and add peeled onions. Cook for about 3 minutes; you want the onions to be tender outside but still somewhat firm within, as they’ll continue to cook in step 3. After 3 minutes, drain onions and empty pot.

Add olive oil to the empty pot and heat on medium. Add onions carefully — they’ll spatter a bit — and saute about 3 minutes, shaking occasionally, until onions have turned golden brown in spots. Meanwhile, stir silan and vinegar together until they are well-combined and there are no clumps of honey. Once onions have browned, add silan-vinegar mixture to the pan; it will bubble vigorously. Shake pan occasionally to coat onions with marinade. As marinade reduces, it will coat onions more thickly. The whole thing will take about three minutes. Transfer onions to a bowl, and drizzle marinade from pot over onions. At this point, either serve immediately, or refrigerate, and warm before serving.

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  • LimeCake November 25, 2010,

    this looks like a great side dish! happy thanksgiving!

  • Ariel November 25, 2010,

    yum! love silan – definitely need to try this