In the Philippines, garlic is called bawang. In Malaysia, bawang is onion. I learned that by watching Malaysian cooking shows, especially 5 Rencah 5 Rasa on Asian Food Channel. Yesterday, at The Landmark, I saw this bag of “Bawang Goreng” and even before I read the English translation, I already knew what it was. I grabbed the bag (the last on the shelf) and put it in my grocery cart.
Why? What’s the big deal about fried onions? Oh, man, those aren’t just fried onions — those are fried shallots. And you can sprinkle them on anything — soups, stir fries, rice and even grilled fish — and they transform a dish from something good to something so much better. It isn’t just the subtle sweetness they impart, it’s the texture too — the light crunch, the mouth feel of something fried and caramelized.
Much as I love toasted garlic bits, there is something unique about crisp fried onions. I often make them fresh and it does entail some work so this bag of fried red onions will make life in the kitchen simpler for a couple of months.
Here’s a closer shot of the label. That’s a 500 g. bag for PhP176.00 (about USD4.21). That’s really inexpensive. There are similar local items sold in small jars but they’re pretty pricey — about a fifth of the contents of that bag for more than half the price. And they’re hard to find too. So, this 500-gram bag of bawang goreng is a steal. And look — the expiration date is six months into the future. The fried onions would be long gone by then.
Of course, once the bag is opened, there’s no way that the fried onions will retain their crunchiness and flavor. So, I transferred the contents of the bag into two jars. The jars will have to be kept in a cook dry place and away from the sun. That should ensure that the fried onions will stay good for the next couple of months.
Obviously, I couldn’t wait to start using the fried onions. I made an omelet — with malunggay — for brunch today and I sprinkled fried onions liberally on top. The omelet recipe coming up next.