Normally, I wait until the end of that week’s Cooking Eorzea to tell you what I think of a dish. This week, however, is different. It is different because…This is the first time that I shared what I’ve cooked from raw ingredients with someone else. When I started Cooking Eorzea, it was a series about me dealing with heartbreak and about finding happiness through cooking- despite me knowing almost nothing about it. After I made this week’s crab croquette recipe and I sampled it at the very end, the only thing that went through my mind was simply: “I want to share this with someone.”
I packed up several of the crab croquettes and took them to see a friend at her workplace after she had just gotten over COVID. I had not seen her for a few weeks because she was sick, and I had promised her that I would see her that night. I purposefully brought enough for both people that were working to enjoy, and they were still hot and crispy out of the peanut oil fryer that I had set up on my stovetop.
They were quickly eaten up with giant smiles, and I could tell that it made my friend extremely happy. And that made me happy, too. This column, even with the (many!) mistakes I am making as I try to cook all these different dishes, is making me a more confident person and a happier person.
A quote from a manga called Kitchen Princess keeps popping into my mind: “Good food isn’t just about the taste. It’s about where and with whom you eat it.” And to be honest, those words never really rang true for me until I shared this dish and I saw the happiness it brought with it.
If you’ve stuck with me this far on my cooking journey, then all I have to say is “thank you” and “please keep reading and seeing where this column goes.” I will keep trying to cook with Love, Eorzean Style. I promise.
If you’ve missed an installment of Cooking Eorzea, you can check out all the prior recipes here.
Recipe of the Week
This week’s Cooking Eorzea recipe, Crab Croquette, is the 12th recipe of The Ultimate FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Cookbook. This ‘Medium’ difficulty-rated dish is from the Hingashi region of the Far East. This dish was also the very first time that I have ever deep fried anything at my home, and I was more than a little nervous about burning myself with the oil!
Here is what the recipe is supposed to look like:
Featured Ingredient of the Week
This week’s featured ingredient is real crab meat! I have not had real crab meat since I was last in Maryland a few years back, and I had forgotten how amazing it is. I snuck out a couple small pieces to try it out, and I had forgotten how simply divine actual crab -compared to imitation crab, at least- is!
My Cooking Attempt
As always, here is a full photo of all the ingredients that I used:
First, I added the potatoes to a pot, poured in cold water, and brought it to a boil. Once I could puncture the potatoes with a fork, I knew that they were done.
I poured the hot water out and refilled the pot with cold water. I then let it sit for 20-ish minutes until the potatoes were cool enough for me to hold in my hand. You can see that the skin was already starting to flake off after I added the cold water to the dish.
Once the potatoes cooled down, I was able to easily peel the potatoes.
After all the potatoes were peeled, I put them in a bowl and mashed them down.
Once the potatoes were fully mashed, I set the pot aside and diced up both half of an onion and a shallot. I’ve noticed that after dicing shallots for several weeks now that I have gotten really good at it!
I then melted butter in a frying pan, and I cooked the shallots and onions together until they were done. I added in the all-purpose flour, garlic powder, ground fennel, salt, and pepper on top of it.
I then blended it all together in the frying pan until it was well mixed. I won’t lie- it started to smell really good in the pan as it was sizzling!
Once that was done, I added it into the mashed potatoes and blended all of that together.
I got out some parchment paper and I covered a baking sheet with it.
I added in the crab and soft tofu and blended it all together further.
I then washed my hands, scooped up a portion of the blended mixture into my hand, and rolled it into a ball.
As I finished rolling a ball, I would place it on the parchment paper. When I used up the entire bowl, I tried to place it in the fridge…
It was only after I placed it all in the fridge and looked back at the recipe that I realized that I had made the croquettes too big. I ended up having to pull the tray back out, breaking down each giant croquette, and remaking them to be smaller. The ones on the left are the original sized ones, and the ones on the right are the correct size ones.
Once I finished re-rolling the crab croquettes, I placed them in the fridge so they could chill for an hour.
While the croquettes were chilling, I added more all-purpose flour to a bowl.
I then cracked three eggs and whisked them together in a second bowl. I’ve gotten really good at cracking eggs on the table surface, and I didn’t lose any shell in the yolks this time!
I then measured out the panko and poured it onto a large plate.
Here is what all three stations looked like when they are put next to each other!
Once the timer went off, I pulled out the crab croquettes. You can see that they really melded together as they chilled in my fridge.
I then rolled each crab croquette in the all-purpose flour and dunked it in the whisked egg yolks.
After the crab croquette was wrapped in whisked egg yolk, I rolled it into the panko until the appetizer was well-covered.
The end result of each crab croquette is below. I would finish one and place it back on the parchment sheet. You can also see that the mixture clung to my fingers as well. I ended up having to stop several times to wash my hands so that the mixture would come off of my fingers.
After I was about two-thirds of the way through with coating all of the crab croquettes, I ended up having to whisk another egg in as I was running out of egg yolk. I also had to add in more panko to the final station since I had used almost all of that up.
When I finished rolling all of the crab croquettes in the various stations, I placed them all in the fridge to chill.
As the crab croquettes were chilling in the fridge again, I poured peanut oil into a tall pot and let it heat up to the proper temperature.
I then pulled the crab croquettes out of the fridge, loaded one up on a slotted spoon, and tried to lower it down into the boiling peanut oil. It was about a half-second after it splashed going in that I decided to throw on a heavy coat and use a thick rubber glove to add more crab croquettes into the pot.
After I loaded up the pot with a bunch of crab corquettes, I set a timer and I let them sizzle inside.
After my timer went off, I scooped them out. Here, you can see how well I am protecting myself out of a (very reasonable, in my opinion) fear of being splashed with extremely hot peanut oil.
At this point, my apartment started to smell of peanut oil. I would then set each batch onto a plate covered in paper towels so that the oil could drain off.
And here is the final dish! I ended up cutting one of the crab croquettes in half so that you can see what the final inside looks like.
As I mentioned at the top of this week’s Cooking Eorzea column, this dish was absolutely fantastic. The potatoes and crab and onions and shallots and tofu blended together incredibly well, and the panko coating was really crispy. This was truly delicious, and I bet that it would be a truly great appetizer to make for someone (or someones!) for dinner.
This dish produced a lot of crab croquettes, and I am happy that I got to share a lot of them with other people. I would definitely make this dish again for a dinner party or something else that is fancy. While my crab croquettes are darker than the ones in the cookbook, it didn’t change or hurt the flavor whatsoever. This is also a lot easier to make than I first expected when I saw the recipe, and I would urge anyone to give it a try.
Once again, I want to thank Victoria Rosenthal for writing The Ultimate FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Cookbook. I also want to thank the staff over at Insight Editions for giving me permission to use the photos from their book to show how these recipes are actually supposed to look. Furthermore, I continually owe Brandon Rose a special thanks for creating the logo for this series on short notice. You should check him and his works out over on Twitter.
Finally, I want to thank both Hiromichi Tanaka and Naoki Yoshida for producing FINAL FANTASY XIV Online in both iterations of the game.
Next week’s appetizer for Cooking Eorzea is Deviled Eggs. I am excited to see how this classic dish is given an Eorzea twist, and I really do hope you will return for it!
And if I can, I will be sure to share it with others too.
Do you ever cook for other people? Have you ever tried out a new recipe and couldn’t wait to share it with others?
Let us know in the comments below!