I don't like chopping onions - who does? - and my Life At the Stove has changed since I got my hands on this fantastic gadget. The Alligator turns big, stinky onions into a perfect - and I mean PERFECT - small dice in a matter of seconds.
I challenge the cheffiest chef in the world to produce a pile of diced onion as perfect and evenly sized as the tiny squares that pop out of the Alligator, every time.
No, it's not one of those silly cylinders with an up-and-down chopper blade: it's far cleverer.
The device consists of a plastic casing holding a 2mm x 2mm stainless steel grid, which is sharpened on the underside. You peel and halve your onion, put it under the razor grid, give it a bloody good smack with your fist, and Bob's your onion.
Some tips for using the Alligator:
For a perfect dice:
* top and tail and peel the onions. Cut them in half vertically (ie, from top to root).
* place the onion halves cut-side down on a chopping board and, with a sharp knife, make a horizontal cut through the onion (your knife should be parallel with the chopping board). If it's a very large onion, you may need to make two cuts.
* Put the sliced onion half into the Alligator. Cover the top of the gadget with your hand to prevent bits flying everywhere, and with the other fist deliver a sharp downward blow. Newer models of the Alligator come with a plastic hood that prevents onion pieces flying around.
* Step back and admire your fine dice.
The Alligator is also good for young celery, spring onions, carrots (but they should be cut horizontally into 2 mm-thick 'planks' first), garlic, apple slices, potato slices, courgettes, bell peppers, and so on.
Sharpness: If you use the Alligator daily, as I do, you will find it gets blunt after a year or two of use. It can't be sharpened, so you will have to buy a new one. But well, well worth it.
Cleaning: Use a nail brush or dishwashing brush to clean bits and pieces from the stainless steel grid. The 'receiving' end of the gadget - ie the cubed plastic bit that the blades bite into - has at its base an ingenous little plastic device, a sort of grid within a grid, that can be lifted out with a fingernail, scrubbed free of onion pieces, and then slotted back into place.
Available from Thrupps in Johannesburg, and online.