Chef Sarah Gavigan is a force in the Music City food scene. With ventures like Pop, Otaku Ramen, and Little Octopus under her belt, the self-taught, Japanese-inspired restaurateur is making magic happen in the mouths of Nashville residents time and time again. Sarah’s latest venture, Bar Otaku, a traditional izakaja, is serving up Japanese small plates alongside boozy drinks, delivering all of my newfound favorites including cigar-style crab handrolls (seriously, where have you been all my life?), salmon onigiri, cold green bean salad, hamachi sashimi, and the most delectable combination of shoyu honey, black sesame, and sweet potatoes. Side note: The bar makes a killer margarita, which is not on the menu, but just ask for it and they will deliver. The sake bombs are good and fun, too!
One of my personal favorite things on the Little Octopus menu, may she rest in peace, was the Avo Salad. A seemingly simple side dish that packed a serious punch of flavor and transformed everyone’s favorite creamy fruit. With the closing of LO, a slight state of panic set in as I mourned the loss of the regular spot where my weekly avocado cravings were fulfilled. I had to know how to make this spectacular plate at home. Luckily for me Sarah obliged, and lucky for you she’s sharing it with Bleu, so we can all chow down on this culinary masterpiece. I hope you make it and love it as much as I do.
Yields four cups.
4 ripe avocados
¼ cup pickled red onion
¼ cup crispy shallot
1 tsp. scallion ash
1 cup sour orange dressing
Scoop out avocado into bowl, mixing in sour orange dressing, and salt to taste. Top with pickled red onion and crispy shallot. Sprinkle scallion ash over the top and across the plate.
To make the pickled red onion:
Heat all ingredients (listed below) until a gentle simmer is achieved. Pour over the onions and let set overnight.
325g red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup mirin
1 dried Thai chili pepper
To make the sour orange dressing:
Puree first four ingredients (listed below) and emulsify with canola oil.
300g sour orange juice
75g white vinegar
1 cup canola oil
Cayenne pepper to taste
To make the crispy shallots:
Put 4 cups of frying oil into a small saucepan. Add 100 grams of shallots and place pot over medium heat. Cook gently, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes (turn down heat if they seem to be coloring too quickly), until they gradually become brown.
Place a fine-meshed sieve over a bowl. Transfer shallots to sieve and let drain well.
To make the scallion ash:
Roast 4 scallions in the oven until black. Add to a food processor until powered.
Want more of Chef Sarah Gavigan’s food? Be sure to check out her first book Ramen Otaku: Mastering Ramen At Home.