Makes 10 to 12 servings as part of an appetizer menu
1 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
8 whole cloves
1 teaspoon hot chili flakes
1 dried bay leaf
12 ounces spring or pearl onions (about 30, 1 to 1 1/2 in. wide; trim any greens before weighing), rinsed (see notes)
How to Make It
In a 1 1/2- to 2-quart pan over medium heat, combine vinegar, salt, sugar, cloves, chili flakes, bay leaf, and 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel onions and pull off any thin membrane under peel. Trim root ends.
Add onions to vinegar mixture and simmer, stirring occasionally, until just tender when pierced, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a serving bowl; discard liquid.