A lot has been happening lately. I’ve come down with a rather bad sinus infection, and so I’ve been trying to navigate and treat that while also carrying on my work life, my cooking, and everything else. I hate being sick, and I have had a lot of trouble handling the late-night coughing fits despite taking a cornucopia of medication.
All of that set aside, it hasn’t stopped me from watching Fan Festival 2024 in Tokyo! We got a look at a bunch of new content for the upcoming expansion, and everyone found out about the new Pictomancer job. I love how colorful the job looks to be, and I hope that it has a complexity to it that makes it easy to play but difficult to properly master. It is a bit weird moving on from the storyline that was started way back when in 1.0, but I am ready to experience the ‘vacation’ that we are being promised in Dawntrail.
I’m honestly really excited for it, and I hope that it brings a lot of new players on board – especially with all the new Xbox Series X and S gamers hopefully coming on board.
Change and new things are ahead for us all, and I am ready to see what SQUARE ENIX has in store for us with all the Love, Eorzean Style that I can muster up. Especially once I am feeling better. If only ‘Cure’ and ‘Esuna’ spells worked in real life…
If you’ve missed an installment of Cooking Eorzea, you can check out all the prior recipes here.
Recipe of the Week
Pork Kakuni is the 44th recipe in the cookbook, and it has a difficulty rating of ‘Easy.’ Coming out of the Far Eastern archipelago of Hingashi, this is a dish that will take several hours to make. I’ve never worked with pork belly before as an ingredient, and so I am excited to see just how tender it is while it cooks in a pot with vegetables and then in a braising sauce.
Anyway, here is what the dish is supposed to look like when it is made by the hands of a professional!
Featured Ingredient of the Week
Pork belly is a fatty, boneless cut of pork that comes from the belly of a pig. Pork belly is a long cut of meat that has layers of fat surrounding the meat itself. I’ve never actually worked with pork belly before, and I’ve never bought it. This meat was surprisingly tough to cut through the fat of, and I needed to use a second knife to separate the last bits of fat away for each cube. This ingredient became my Featured Ingredient Of The Week after I worked with it and realized just how delicious and easy to prepare it was!
My Cooking Attempt
The ingredients list for Pork Kakuni surprisingly did not require me to add any spices or seasonings to the dish:
First, I removed the fresh ginger root’s skin by using a spoon to gently scrape it off. Once I finished scraping it, I measured it down to three inches, cut it, and then cut it in half again.
I then prepped and quartered the fennel bulb before preparing and slicing the scallions in half.
I then sliced the pork belly into large cubes.
I layered a large plate with paper towels and then heated a teaspoon of olive oil up in a pan.
Once the pan was hot, I added in the pork belly cubes and I let each of the sides brown. I kept having to rotate them in the pan to make sure each side had an opportunity to sizzle!
When the pork was done after about 10 minutes, I removed the pork belly from the pan, placed them onto the paper towel-covered plate, and then gently pressed each piece of pork belly to dry it.
I then added the pork belly, the quartered fennel, the halved ginger root, and the sliced scallions to a pot. I added just enough water to cover up all of the ingredients.
I brought the pot up to a boil, reduced it to a simmer, and then let it cook for two-and-a-half hours.
When the timer rang, I pulled the pork out and patted it dry. I then set the remaining soup aside to enjoy for a separate meal since there is no reason to waste a good soup. As for the pork belly, it was extremely tender and I had to be extra careful to not let it fall apart in my hands.
Setting the pork belly aside, I started to make the braising sauce. First, I got out a small saucepan and emptied the bottle of dashi stock into it.
I then added in sake and mirin to the dashi stock.
I then measured out the soy sauce and added it in too.
Finally, I added in the granulated sugar and compacted brown sugar to the braising sauce!
I then whisked it all together with a spatula until it was well-blended, heated up the braising sauce, and then added in the pork belly.
I brought the saucepot up to a boil, lowered the temperature, and then let the entire dish simmer for an hour. Every so often, I turned the pork over to make sure that every side was well-coated as the Pork Kakuni finished up!
And here is this week’s Cooking Eorzea dish! With the brand-new announcement of Pictomancer during the Keynote in Fan Festival 2024 in Tokyo, I felt like the inspiration of the job from FINAL FANTASY III (in actuality FINAL FANTASY VI, for reasons that are far too long to get into here) would be a fitting decorative piece for this week!
The Pork Kakuni was fantastic, and I ate most of it in one sitting. The pork belly was incredibly tender and kept falling apart on my fork, and I could absolutely taste the ginger root and fennel in the pork. The braising sauce was salty and savory, and it paired really, really well with the pork belly. This was an incredibly easy dish to make that was insanely delicious, and it looks far more fancy than it actually was to make!
If I was to make the Pork Kakuni again, I absolutely would do it when I have plenty of time to do it. It is an amazing, but long-cooking dish, to make. I cannot stress about how easy it was to make and how delicious it was!
Now, ‘thank you’ time! First, as always, 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 professional attempts looks like. Furthermore, I owe Brandon Rose a special thanks for creating the logo for Cooking Eorzea on short notice. You should check him and his works out over on X.
Finally, I want to thank both Hiromichi Tanaka and Naoki Yoshida for producing FINAL FANTASY XIV Online in both iterations of the game. I watched the Keynote address, and I am honestly excited for Dawntrail. It looks to be an amazing expansion and I cannot wait to see what is next for the Warrior of Light and the Scions of the Seventh Dawn! And more importantly (for me), I cannot wait for what new dishes I will be able to hopefully make for Cooking Eorzea.
In Two Weeks
I have company coming this weekend, and so there will not be a Cooking Eorzea dish for next week. It’s hard explaining to someone that we need to shop around for random ingredients at multiple grocery stores. Fun fact: I have yet to be able to buy all the ingredients for any dish at just one store so far, which is a bit crazy.
Anyway, when this column comes back, Rare Roast Beef will be on the menu! I looked at the recipe already, and it looks like it will be hearty and amazing. So please come back then to check out the next installment of Cooking Eorzea!
Have you made a dish with pork belly before?
What was your favorite announcement from Fan Festival 2024 in Tokyo?
Let us know in the comments below!