Cooking Eorzea Week 13: Popoto Salad

Friday, March 11th, 2022

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Cooking Eorzea | Feature Image

I have a really hard time accepting compliments, though I do appreciate getting them. (Especially if they are given with Love, Eorzean Style.) Over the past week, I got told that I am doing incredibly well at my new job, that it is clear that I am practicing and improving in my spare time at kendo, and that I am doing much better at curling. Each time I was complimented, I felt uncomfortable about it. I don’t see myself as being good enough at these things. Instead, I only see how much I don’t know at work or how I am still giving away my forward movement with my right foot when I strike or how I still throw stones through the hack.

I don’t hold myself to an expert level of comparison, as I still see myself as very much a beginner of the things I am doing. I also don’t think it is quite imposter syndrome (check out my interview with Davionne Gooden, creator of She Dreams Elsewhere, for a discussion about that). Instead, I am just…not comfortable with compliments or praise as I don’t feel like I’m at a level worth praising yet.

That even extends to my cooking. Last week, I burned the meat miq’abobs when they caught on fire. This week (spoiler?) I burned the zucchini in the oven as I was trying to roast them. I know I am learning how to cook, I am getting better at it, and that I am nowhere near perfect. Yet, I would be uncomfortable if someone told me that I was getting better- although, again, I would appreciate being told that. It’s just…weird and I don’t know quite how to fix that about myself. At least, not yet.

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 is for the 18th recipe in the cookbook: Popoto Salad, from the Norvrandt region. With a difficulty rating of ‘Easy’ and it being completely vegetarian, I had very little concern about catching the whole thing on fire like I did last week. As always, here is what the dish is supposed to look like:

Cooking Eorzea | Popoto Salad Professional Photo

Photo courtesy of Insight Editions.

Featured Ingredient of the Week

Cooking Eorzea | Japanese Mayo

Photo by author.

Cooking Eorzea‘s featured ingredient for Week 13 is Japanese Mayonnaise. I’ll be honest- I have never even heard of this until I saw it listed in the ingredient list. It is yellower, creamier, and just tastes differently than the white mayonnaise that I buy in the grocery store for burgers and such. Apparently, Japanese mayonnaise is made with rice vinegar instead of distilled vinegar, and I am sure that is a big reason why it is so different.

My Cooking Attempt

First, here is a photograph of all the ingredients that I used for this week. It was a lot of vegetables this time around that I was able to easily find in one or two stores:

Cooking Eorzea | Screenshot of ingredients.

Photo by author.

First, I quartered and thinly sliced the zucchini. I ended up having to throw away a few bits and pieces of it, as they wouldn’t thinly slice as I got towards the end of the zucchini quarter-chunks.

Cooking Eorzea | Vertically slicing zucchini.

Photos by author.

Cooking Eorzea | Sliced zucchini

Setting those aside, I got out the potatoes. I peeled them, sliced them, and then cubed them into pieces. I then set them aside in a bowl.

Cooking Eorzea | Slicing and cubing potatoes.

Photos by author.

Cooking Eorzea | Cubed potatoes.

Finally, I turned my attention to the carrot. I tried to use the julienne cutter that I had, but the blade broke on the second stroke. As a result, I was forced to peel the outer layer of the carrot off and then julienne the carrot by hand with a knife. The slices weren’t as thin as I would have liked as a result, but I was determined to make it work!

Cooking Eorzea | Breaking the julienne.

Photos by author.

Cooking Eorzea | Finished julienned carrot.

At this point, I realized that I should have preheated the oven before now, oops. I turned on the oven and sprayed down a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil with nonstick spray.

Cooking Eorzea | Spraying down the baking sheet.

Photo by author.

I added olive oil to a bowl and tossed the zucchini slices in it until they were all well-coated.

Cooking Eorzea | Tossing zucchini in olive oil.

Photo by author.

I then laid the zucchini out on the baking sheet and placed them carefully into the oven to start roasting.

Cooking Eorzea | Placed zucchini in oven to roast.

Photo by author.

After they were in there for about 15 minutes, I pulled them out and attempted to flip them before placing them back into the oven to finish roasting.

Cooking Eorzea | Flipping the zucchini.

Photos by author.

Cooking Eorzea | Putting the zucchini back into the oven.

After they were completely done, I pulled them out…and discovered that I had burned quite a few of the zucchini slices. I was disappointed to say the least, but I wasn’t going to be deterred from finishing the dish!

Cooking Eorzea | Burned zucchini from the oven.

Photo by author.

I set the roasted zucchini aside to cool, and I added the cubed potatoes to a pot on the stovetop. I then added in just enough water to the pot cover the potatoes and then a bunch of salt before mixing it gently together.

Cooking Eorzea | Adding in cubed potatoes.

Photos by author.

Cooking Eorzea | Adding in salt.

I got the pot to boiling, and then I lowered the temperature until it was merely simmering. I let it simmer for about 20 minutes at that point.

Cooking Eorzea | Boiling the pot with potatoes and salt.

Photo by author.

While the potatoes were simmering, I chopped up the scallions (also known as green onions!) and diced up the hardboiled eggs. For this week, I simply bought two hardboiled eggs to use instead of trying to make my own again.

Cooking Eorzea | Chopping up scallions.

Photos by author.

Cooking Eorzea | Dicing up hardboiled eggs.

I scooped out the cubed potatoes when they were done and mashed them in a separate bowl. I never knew that I would be using a potato masher as much as I have so far for Cooking Eorzea!

Cooking Eorzea | Mashing potatoes.

Photo by author.

I added the julienned carrot, the diced hard-boiled eggs, the sliced scallions, and the roasted zucchini to the bowl once the potatoes had cooled some. I then blended it all together before temporarily setting the mixture aside.

Cooking Eorzea | The ingredients added together into a bowl.

Photos by author.

Cooking Eorzea | Mixing the vegetables together.

Getting out a separate bowl, I whisked together the Japanese mayonnaise, the rice vinegar, and more olive oil until they were well-blended and consistent.

Cooking Eorzea | Whisking together the Japanese mayonnaise, rice vinegar, and olive oil.

Photo by author.

I then poured the wet mixture into the blended vegetables.

Cooking Eorzea | Adding in the wet mixture to the vegetables.

Photo by author.

I tossed it all together until it was well-mixed before adding in salt and pepper and then mixing it all together once again to make sure that the seasoning was integrated completely into the dish.

Cooking Eorzea | Blending in the wet mixture with the vegetables.

Photos by author.

Cooking Eorzea | Adding in the salt and pepper.

After blending it all together for the last time, I plated it! And here is the final dish:

Cooking Eorzea | Finished Popoto Salad.

Photo by author.

As I always do whenever I finish photographing a Cooking Eorzea dish, I immediately dug into it! This was, hands down, the creamiest potato salad that I have ever had in my life. The carrot slices were a LITTLE too thick, though I know that was due more to my inability to properly julienne the carrot than anything else. I was also just impressed with how everything worked together and made a completely satisfying and delicious dish.

Afterword

This is a dish that I would both make again and would bring to a party. However, I think I would have to use more potatoes and carrots and whatnot as the serving size was not enough for multiple people to have a heaping helping of it. Or I just ate too much for breakfast the next day, which is a very distinct possibility here as it was just that delicious. I wish I could avoid burning the zucchini…though I am not sure how to go about doing that.

Before I close out this week’s Cooking Eorzea column, 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 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. Cooking Eorzea simply wouldn’t exist without both of their contributions.

Next Week

Next week on Cooking Eorzea, I am making THE dish of the Shadowbringers expansion: the Sandwich Basket. I am making three different sandwiches for this coming week’s recipe, and I have managed to locate a basket to properly display this dish in! I am ridiculously excited about it, if only because I get to try my hand at three different recipes at once!

Please tune in to see how it turns out!



How do you like to make your potato salad? Have you been able to roast zucchini without burning it? If so, how?

Let us know in the comments below!

About Quentin H.

I have been a journalist for oprainfall since 2015, and I have loved every moment of it. Do you want to do an interview? You can reach me at interviews@oprainfall.com