21 Jun2007

Humongous White Onions

by Marketman


Now that the rainy season has arrived in fits and starts, the quality of locally available vegetables has started to deteriorate and prices have escalated dramatically. Onions and carrots, in particular, tend to plumb new depths for horrific quality, with locally grown or stored onions getting soft, mushy or rotten. Carrots are also awful and frankly, slimy… The local red onions seem to hold up a bit better but even those are suspect. And prices onion2will soon rise from their lows of say PHP25-30 a kilo to as high as PHP60-70 in the months ahead. You may not be aware of this but a LOT of our Spanish or white or yellow onions are now imported by the container load from China and other Asian neighbors and while they seem to be better prepped (dried and cleaned for longer shelf life), they are also older… Last year I noticed that the Dole Company was occasionally putting out these utterly gigantic and shrink-wrapped white onions at major groceries. I have only purchased these onions 2-3 times but I am really thrilled they are available and will probably use them a whole lot more this rainy season.

At PHP80 a kilo at last purchase, they seem expensive or almost double other locally available onions. But think again. The entire onion is usable (no heavy outer skin to throw away, and if you choose it well (most of their specimens look fantastic), you have no wastage at all. So frankly, I think they are reasonably priced when viewed in that light. Each onion is a whopping 800-1,000+ grams in weight! They are milder than local onions and work well when raw onion is called for – say in guacamole dips, a tomato, onion and blue cheese salad or in hamburgers. They taste good when cooked as well. These onions aren’t quite the Sweet Vidalia’s or other sweet varieties available in the U.S., but they are pretty darn good. The best thing about these onions (which must be grown down south in Mindanao and probably predominantly for export) is that they are available in what is otherwise the onion low point of the year. Now, if only Dole would get cracking on some decent carrots for the rainy season…



  1. Maria Clara says:

    Much too much have been said with our produce market – no consistent offering and pricing! The much sought onion to dress up a can of sardines in tomato sauce or to extend its serving in sautéed onion and add a bowlful of water which is the common dish of low income family. How can we compete with our neighboring countries where the majority of our citizens are malnourished? I can picture the pitiful carrot where you can get it in China, Thailand and Japan luminous orange colored enough to light up your kitchen counter!!!

    Jun 21, 2007 | 4:54 am


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  3. millety says:

    wow! and guess what, MM….dole is experimenting with growing blueberries..yes, real blueberries, down south. watch for them…

    Jun 21, 2007 | 6:13 am

  4. elaine says:

    I lived in Baguio for a couple of years and tremendously enjoyed the market. I have a suki from whom I would get my produce such as carrots(which are quite humongous, bright orange with stems), red and white onions which are terrific..the white onions which we always make into onion rings ( as compared to most onion rings in restos which are puny,according to my son). In the two years we’ve lived I must say they’ve always been consistent, especially the ones from the trading post in la trinidad where we make the 15 min=30 min drive from outlook drive. Most of these produce are prepped up for the lowlands. I know that these veggies have to be chilled or placed in a cooler to retain its freshness upon reaching Manila or other places(except for nearby northern provinces) we had to secure one when we brought in leeks, onions, carrots, lettuce, they all wilted one way or the other..can you imagine how expensive it is(fuel wise)to be transporting them in refrigerated vans unless it’s some big supermarket who’s hauling them in..these are produce coming from the north(they’re really the best ones I think, I even brought rhubarb, and because of the weather there, one can practically plant anything that grows in colder places).one thing is not consistent though, are their broccoli..theyre puny! I’m sure there are other provinces which supply these produce, but then how they’re transported and the cost really add up. I must say that I also patronize imported carrots, onions(now that I’m Mla based)because of their quality and cheap price as much as I want to support our local farmers especially from the ones up north.

    Jun 21, 2007 | 6:32 am

  5. Mila says:

    I miss Vidalia and the Georgia grown onions that are sweet enough to eat raw like an apple. The closest I get is bottled vidalia onion salad dressing!

    Elaine’s comment made my mind whirl thinking of the ramifications of poor public access, lack of proper storage facilities, and the waste that takes place with all those vegetables sold in the lowlands. The mountain region provinces are neglected by the government; French and US farmers manage to get massive subsidies for produce, but our local farmers barely get a nod from the Dept of Agriculture.

    Jun 21, 2007 | 7:09 am

  6. connie says:

    Those are just the right size for making onion blossoms, and if they are mild enough they’ll be good substitute for Vidalia, which is usually used for making onion blossoms.

    Jun 21, 2007 | 7:12 am

  7. Crissy says:

    We’ve bought those kinds of onions once or twice. My Dad thought of making huge onion rings. They were quite good actually :)

    Jun 21, 2007 | 8:18 am

  8. Marketman says:

    millet, I will be first in line for locally grown blueberries…I LOVE blueberries. connie, what are onion blossoms? Crissy, onion rings, great idea. Mila, Elaine and Maria Clara, I agree we need to help the local farmers, I certainly try to buy local whenver I can, but sometimes…

    Jun 21, 2007 | 8:38 am

  9. bernadette says:

    How i wish we can have those onions just as nicely packed in our provincial market. I usually buy the Tagalog sibuyas because they are said to be tastier but then they are not really for salads. I usually like adding onions in guacamole but then as you had said the white onions get a lot more expensive during the rainy season. This is also the time when our avocado tree’s fruits ripen…and then I’d have to think of coming up with lots of avocado dishes pronto! And no white onion. They do rot easily so storing them is usually frustrating!

    Jun 21, 2007 | 9:47 am

  10. connie says:

    MM, onion blossom is an appetizer served in some restaurants here in the US or could be bought in some fairs, along with funnel cakes, roasted turkeys legs, sausages and hotdogs. It’s basically a vidalia onion cut crosswise several times that the cuts are probably 1/8 inch apart. The onion is not cut complicately all the way to the base though, that way you’ll have a base to support the separated onion that do look like blossoms after cutting. It’s dip in a batter and then deep fried, served usually with honey mustard or ranch dressing for dipping.

    Here’s a link over at wikipedia for a better idea.

    It’s a very guilt-ridden food, but hey it’s an appetizer, you are suppose to share it and not finish it all by yourself.

    Jun 21, 2007 | 10:40 am

  11. Marketman says:

    connie, that sounds utterly scrumptious…will have to keep my eyes open for that!

    Jun 21, 2007 | 12:19 pm

  12. Ria says:

    MM, I think they serve something like that in Outback called “Blooming Onion”. I got one of these last week and made soup. I just chopped it up, sauteed it in butter and left it to caramelize. Add chicken broth, some Lea and Perrins, top it up with a slice of french bread and cheese..broil and enjoy.

    Jun 21, 2007 | 12:36 pm

  13. Mandy says:

    i see those onions all the time in the grocery and i always put it next to my daughter’s head to tease her–that the onion is bigger than her head. :) they’d also be good for buttermilk onion rings! :) yummy.

    Jun 21, 2007 | 1:26 pm

  14. lee says:

    i don’t like the native variety, killer onions i call them. I can tolerate white onions to the point of not spitting it out while screaming murder. Allow me to share something I read in a Pugad Baboy comic strip a long, long, time ago…

    “In Union There Is Strength.” Sa Tagalog, “Sa Sibuyas May Tigas.”

    Jun 21, 2007 | 3:57 pm

  15. Pecorino says:

    About the Onion Blossoms or Bloomin’ Onions, Chili’s might still have them. They had it in their Makati branch a few years back (I’m based abroad now). It tasted the same as the one I had in Chili’s in California. (Can’t remember what they were called though.)

    Jun 21, 2007 | 6:31 pm

  16. Katrina says:

    I’ve seen it called both Bloomim’ Onion and Awesome Blossom. Ria’s right — Outback has it. I really enjoy it (as I do most crunchy, fried food), except after a while the coating gets soggy and there’s always a part left that no one wants to eat.

    Jun 21, 2007 | 11:57 pm

  17. millet says:

    Bloomin Onions are quite easy to do, actually…slice the onions vertically into 8 sections about 4/5 of the way..make sure the wedges are still attached to the root end. soak the whole thing in ice water for about 30 minutes. make sure you do this in a big bowl so that “petals” have room to “bloom”. heat up lots of oil in a deep fryer, drain the onion and shake off all the excess liquid, dip in batter (the standard tempura or calamares fritos batter will do), and deep-fry in very hot oil till golden. (i think some people add anothert layer of carbs by spinkling some corn meal on top of the battered onion, just to be sure). these are good with a blue cheese and sour cream dip, or sour cream and chives, just in case you need to top up the cholesterol max for the week.

    Jun 24, 2007 | 9:39 am

  18. Marketman says:

    millet, thanks for that recipe, it sounds superb… a good reason to test my deep fryer that has been wallowing in the pantry for years…I just can’t get myself to use that much fresh oil in one go! :)

    Jun 24, 2007 | 10:40 am

  19. Blaise says:

    Saw this yesterday at landmark, it was really big.. it is labeled, Sweet Onion..

    Aug 16, 2007 | 8:54 am

  20. palengkera says:

    Chiquita-Unifrutti is also experimenting on blueberries.

    Sep 28, 2007 | 3:47 pm


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