Onion flakes have been in our pantry for as long as we have been cooking. They are used sparingly, in fact we cannot remember specific uses until recently when we were making our own "Everything Spice" blend.
A conversation with our friend Adam about Indian food prompted other uses for onion flakes, specifically for sauce preparations. The flavor of toasted onion flakes, experienced in our spice blend, is rich and reminiscent of onion soup, particularly the instant variety. After some time mulling the taste about in our heads we decided to toast the onion flakes by themselves. The result was a rich caramelized onion flavor. It was not a long leap to combining them with some water, a touch of soy sauce and caraway (an incredibly versatile and complimentary spice) to make a quick pressure cooked extraction. We put the ingredients in a mason jar and cooked them for 25 minutes. The result was the most decadent onion soup we have come across. The only thing missing was a dash of sherry, brandy or perhaps chartreuse.
The moral quandary comes to question with the use of onion flakes. Should we make our own? What have we done by making an onion essence better than using fresh onions and slowly cooking them down to make as in the traditional preparation? We do not make flour, we do not make oil, we do not make wine or whiskey. Is it blasphemy or ingenuity using onion flakes to create a delicious result?
We did not even get interesting with the flakes. We just toasted them in the oven. What if we smoked them or pickled them first? What if we added other spices and incorporated flavors with them? The crossroads of delicious is often clouded by the fog of culinary acceptance. What does it tell us when we know our results are tastier?