Sweet Potato and Spicy Cucumber Bao

New Experiences and Ingredients

I purposely chose to make this dish because it had some ingredients that are new to me. Things I’ve either never heard of or never tried from this dish include:

  • Bao (which is a Chinese steamed bread roll)
  • Black Garlic (more about this later)
  • Mirin (which is a rice wine similar to sake)
  • Furikake (which is a seasoning that includes seaweed and sesame seeds, among other things)
  • Sambal Oelek (which I actually discussed in yesterday’s meal, but it was new to me then)

How Did I Miss The First Instruction?

I forgot to boil the water. I mean, really, it was the very first direction and I somehow missed that, so when it came time to steam the rolls (they remind me of dumplings), I had no boiling water. It didn’t take much longer to get up to speed on that, but it definitely threw me a little behind in the timing of things.

Waste of Time?

Speaking of time, I felt like the cole slaw was a waste of time, as it just didn’t add much to the dish. The flavors just weren’t bold enough, so I didn’t eat it.

Wow for the Bao

I think “wow” more or less rhymes with “bao” but if I got that wrong, I apologize. Ok, I apologize for the bad rhyme-y phrase too. Anyway, the bao was tasty. I’ve been enjoying eating more sweet potatoes lately, and I think it makes for a nice sweet/savory main ingredient for a vegetarian meal. The rolls are puffy and soft and frankly, just fun to eat.

Sticky Black Garlic??

With all the new-to-me ingredients, the one that really knocked me for a loop was the black garlic. I’d definitely never seen anything like that. Obviously, as you can see from the photo, it’s really black! And even more surprising is the texture. It’s soft and gooey like a date or a raisin. That made it difficult to “finely chop” them as the instructions required, as they pretty much just stuck to the sides of the knife, instead of sitting there all prim and proper like I needed them to, so I could actually slice through them. After a while, I gave up, and just went with “not-so-finely chopped”.

What Does Black Garlic Taste Like?

Looking at it, I would have guessed that perhaps it might taste like a clove of roasted garlic would taste. Soft and sweet with a kick, and wonderfully delicious, right? Well no. Soft? Yes. Sweet? A little. Definitely no kick. In fact, it honestly didn’t have much of a taste at all. When I googled it later, the taste was described as subtle. I’d say that’s putting it “mildly”, pardon the pun. (Hey, at least I didn’t make a bad rhyme this time). Frankly, I think it could have been eliminated from the mayo mixture, and no one would notice.

I enjoyed this meal. It was filling and tasty. I wouldn’t put it at the top of my list, but it was pretty good.

Different and Pretty Good
  • Flavor (5 = best)
  • Prep Time (5 = short and easy)
  • Difficulty Level (5 = easiest)
  • Cleanup (5 = quickest)


I enjoyed experimenting with several ingredients I’d never heard of before. The flavor was pretty good, and the bao are fun to eat.


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