Please The Palate Pick of the Week: Ramen Otaku – Mastering Ramen at Home

Are you addicted to ramen? Is it your comfort food? Self-taught cook turned restaurateur Sarah Gavigan is a ramen lover and has written the cookbook Ramen Otaku: Mastering Ramen at Home. Demystifying the process of how to make ramen, anyone can learn to make good tasting ramen at home! And that is why Ramen Otaku: Mastering Ramen at Home is the Please The Palate pick of the week.

Los Angeles is a city filled with ramen shops. Living on the west side, I am in walking distance of Sawtelle Blvd which is peppered with ramen shops. Chef Sarah Gavigan used to be a regular at these shops when she lived in Los Angeles. A native of Nashville she was living in Los Angeles, working in the music industry. She became obsessed with ramen and it became her comfort food. Sarah and her husband then moved back to Nashville where she was a stay-at-home mom and the one thing she missed more than anything was ramen. There were no ramen shops in Nashville and she could not get her fix.

So, in 2011, Sarah started reading and studying about ramen. She became obsessed, or as they say in Japanese, “otaku”. Inspired by pop-up restaurants, such as Ludo Bites, she decided to do a pop-up ramen restaurant in Nashville. No one had done a pop-up restaurant in Nashville but Sarah found a spot and after three years of development, she opened her pop-up in 2014. And in 2015, she opened up a permanent ramen shop Otaku Ramen.

And now Sarah has come out with her first cookbook. A self-taught chef, she takes a home cook approach and simplifies it. She explained to me that ramen is about layering. In her book, she talks about the base flavors and once you understand the base flavors, you can add what you like.

Ramen Otaku strips the mystique from ramen and offers accessible recipes to make it at home. It is a progressive book. The book begins with Sarah’s personal story and then discusses ramen basics, the history of ramen, umami (a natural occurrence based on combining acids) and noodle tips. And then the book moves into stocks. There are a few basic stocks to learn and you can even make them in a pressure cooker! And once you understand the basic stocks, you can make infinite combinations. The book provides 60 ramen recipes.

After sitting down and slurping a bowl of Curry Shio Ramen, a chicken broth ramen with pickled shrimp and a soy egg, I left with my copy of Ramen Otaku: Mastering Ramen at Home, inspired that I could make something so tasty at home! Pick up your book today (available on Amazon) and you can as well! And that is why Ramen Otaku: Mastering Ramen at Home is the Please The Palate pick of the week.

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