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When making some dishes at home, it can be a bit overwhelming to make sure you get all of the correct ingredients. This is even more stressful when you are cooking a dish that is not in your standard repertoire or commonly found in your culture’s cuisine. For instance, someone who is familiar with Asian cuisine may get all the ingredients correct as it is obvious to them, whereas someone entirely unfamiliar with Asian cuisine may mess up the ingredients as they have no clue what they are looking for.
The main point of this is that cooking meals you are unfamiliar with can sometimes be a bit scary. So it is imperative to make sure you have the correct and best ingredients possible. With that said, it is time to talk about the best onions to use when making homemade fajitas.
Table of Contents
- What is a fajita?
- Onions in fajitas
- How to make a fajita
What is a fajita?
A fajita, or fajitas (plural), is a Mexican culinary staple and is one of the most well-known dishes to come from that cuisine. In the simplest explanation possible, a fajita is a tex-mex dish that includes any stripped and grilled meat with sliced bell peppers and onions served on a flour or corn tortilla. The first meat used in this dish was steak; however, it is now much more common for chicken meat parts to be used, and vegetarian and vegan-friendly options do exist that substitute the meat for either more vegetables or imitation meats.
A fajita can commonly be confused with a burrito as they are both dishes that have the food served in a tortilla. The main difference aside from the seasonings and flavors used is that a burrito typically uses ground beef in it. Burritos and fajitas can also be differentiated by their physical appearance, too. A fajita is wrapped in a cylindrical shape with both ends being open, whereas a burrito is wrapped a lot more tightly in a similar cylindrical shape with the bottom end tucked in and the top end open.
Other than the meat and physical appearance, both dishes will have different tastes. Fajita seasoning is mostly spicy and tangy, whereas burritos go for a more subtle and mellow flavor. The flavoring for a fajita is made from a lot of spices such as cayenne pepper, chili flakes, and paprika. This gives it the iconic tang and spice that is often enjoyed by consumers of the dish. A burrito is mostly flavored by the beef; however, it is also most often paired with guacamole and salsa, which adds to the flavor. Rice can also be added to burritos to give them a more bulky profile and increase their nutritional value.
What is fajita seasoning?
The flavors typically found in a fajita are mostly thanks to the seasoning used on the chicken. This can be either storebought or made from scratch at home. The most basic of fajita seasonings will consist of;
- Hot Chilli powder
- Sweet smoked paprika
- Ground cumin
- Garlic powder
- Ground coriander
- Fresh or dried oregano
This recipe can be played with and changed depending on how you like your flavors. This is great because once you play around and perfect your fajita seasoning, it can make the meal so much nicer for you, and you will fall in love with cooking it.
Getting used to changing the balance between herbs and spices in recipes such as this is also a great skill to learn in the kitchen as it opens up the path towards improvising, alternating, and substituting, which can come in handy during every meal you make. The fajita seasoning can also be used on fajita veggies to give them more depth in their flavor and can also be used to make vegetarian fajitas taste more like their meat counterparts.
Alongside fajita seasoning, you will commonly find dips such as sour cream, guacamole, and salsa which will add a lot of flavor to a fajita.
Other Mexican dishes
While fajitas are the most common dish found in Mexican cuisine, there are some other heavy hitters found within as well. We have mentioned burritos, but there is another dish worth mentioning that is called enchiladas. These are cheesy, delicious wraps of chicken and can be both fried and baked in a large skillet. They are very messy and differ from other Mexican dishes as they are not eaten by hand.
Onions in fajitas
As mentioned, fajita veggies are insanely important to the dish as a whole. One of the most important veggies is the onions, as they bring in so much flavor that complements the dish. It can be difficult to know which onions to use as they all have such different flavors. Most dishes typically call for white onions as they have the strongest flavor; if you don’t believe me, then try biting into a raw white onion.
Despite the white onion being the most common type used in fajitas, some recipes are calling for yellow onions and red onions instead due to their more robust flavor. Onion powder can also be used in the dish and is commonly used in fajita seasoning.
However, it is balanced out by other spices, so it is not as bold as physical onions. The reason the flavor of the onion is so noticeable is that any onion in a fajita is not cooked for too long. When cooked for lengthy periods of time, onions start to caramelize and sweeten, but as the onions do not reach this process in fajitas, they taste intense and have a strong flavor.
A red onion, or even a yellow onion, has a much more subtle taste that still adds flavor to the dish. Despite this, if the strong flavor of a white onion is too much for you, then you may want to fry it at medium-high heat with some olive oil until it starts to caramelize. Sprinkle some salt and chili powder on your onions while they fry, and then add them to your fajita for an insane flavor.
How to make a fajita
There are many ways you can make a fajita, as it is more of a dish with optional components rather than a dish that must be perfectly replicated each time. The beauty of a fajita is that it can be made however you want and still turn out great as long as you follow a few guidelines.
Storebought box fajitas
This may seem like a lazy way of making them but trust me, it works so well. In most boxes, you will find the tortillas, any seasonings and flavorings you may need, and instructions. all that you need to buy is the ingredients labeled on the back of the box, which will typically consist of chicken breasts, bell peppers, onions, and maybe a couple more fajita veggies. Don’t forget to stock up on salsa, guacamole, and sour cream while you’re there.
Once you have arrived home with your items, it is a simple case of following the instructions that the box gives you. Once all of that is done, you can plate your meal and tuck in.
Homemade fajitas can range from being entirely from scratch to having some aspects be storebought. By this, I mean that some people will opt to make the entire thing at home, whereas other people may prefer to buy seasoning at a store instead.
Whether you decided to do it all at home, or only some of it, you will need to cook your chicken and vegetables at home no matter what.
Any recipe you may be following will tell you how to do this, but the best way is to cut both the chicken and bell peppers into strips and fry them with some oil and fajita seasoning. once the chicken breasts are cooked, this is usually once they start to brown, and once the bell peppers have softened, you can put them on the side and prepare the rest of your ingredients. If you are worried about the chicken being undercooked, find the thickest bit and cut it in half. If the meat is entirely white on the inside, then you will be fine. Any signs of pink, you will need to cook them for longer.
Alongside your chicken and peppers, you will want to fry some onions if you want to or prepare them however your desired recipe may say. throw the onions in with the chicken and peppers, and add some more seasoning as well as some salt.
Once you have all of this prepared, you can start to make your fajita. The choice is yours as to if you will warm up your tortillas or not, but this can be done in the microwave in 30 seconds or in the oven. Once you are ready to make your fajita, you will need to lay a tortilla down on a big plate or work surface. Add some of your chicken and veggie mix to the tortilla. You will get used to how much to add, as you have to make sure there is room to close the wrap.
Alongside your chicken mix, you can add some sauces such as salsa and guacamole, as well as sour cream. If you want to, you can also add some of your favorite grated cheese for more flavor. Once you have everything on the tortilla, you will want to fold it. It is best to assemble everything in a straight line, sort of in the middle of your tortilla, and then using one side, lengthways, place it over your food and tighten it. You can then roll the other side over this one to create a nice cylinder with opened ends. The tortilla is now ready to eat. Enjoy!
To summarize, the onions in a fajita can differ depending on the recipe you use. The standard onions used in a fajita are white onions, but red and yellow ones work just as well. If you find the flavor too strong, then you can always fry and caramelize your onions before adding them to your fajita.