Rice Paper Rolls
I’ve been playing with rice paper rolls recently. They’re great for a light summer lunch, or even a snack. And the ingredients are pretty easy to come by — as long as you can get the rice paper. You need the asian-style rice paper, not the one you might use for baking. It generally comes in round sheets and is much thicker and initially stiffer than the other sort of rice paper. (I use the other sort for making nougat.)
I first made my own rice paper rolls in a Vietnames restaurant (Quan 88) many years ago, with a dish they called “sliced fish.” It was sliced raw fish, cured in lime juice (or something similar) and dusted lightly with spices. As well there was shredded lettuce or maybe bean shoots, and sliced apple. It was a magic combination — I would never have thought of putting apple with raw fish.
We were given bowls of hot water, sheets of rice paper and shown how to dip the rice paper in the hot water, add the ingredients and roll them up. We weren’t very skilled at the rolling, so it was messy but delicious and I’ve been trying to find the exact way they did the fish ever since. Sadly, they no longer have it on their menu.
But ever since, I’ve been making my own rice paper rolls — just every now and then when the impulse strikes. I’m still not very good at rolling them. You can see how to make them here. Next time I’ll get the right sort of lettuce and that might help. But this is what I did today for lunch.
My basic ingredients today were; strips of cooked egg, thinly sliced chicken, grated carrot, shredded red cabbage, slivers of cucumber and celery, cold cooked soba noodles, bean sprouts and herbs — coriander (cilantro) and basil. (what you see in the pic is what was left after I’d made three rolls.)
Yesterday I made them with prawns, carrot, celery, shredded lettuce, bean sprouts, soba noodles, coriander (cilantro), basil, and mint. And thin slivers of chili. Basically, you can use what you have in the fridge. Traditionally rice noodles are used, but I find them a bit tasteless so I used soba noodles — I like them better.
You simply dip a sheet of rice paper in hot water for a few seconds, it softens more after you take it out so really I just wet it and pop it on a plate, slightly smaller than the rice paper round, which made it easier to find the edges when it came to rolling. Then you add your other ingredients, and roll it up. There’s a quick little video here that shows you the best technique. https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1553722194661677
And they’re so fresh and healthy and yummy. I didn’t bother with making any dipping sauces just for my lunch, though I would if I were serving these to guests or taking them to a picnic. I just tipped blobs of chili sauce, wasabi (Japanese horseradish) and ordinary mayo on a dish and added them per bite as the whim took me.
I love rice paper rolls but never order them out. I’m one of those few who can’t eat cilantro. It’s like eating Dawn dishwashing soap. And every restaurant near us and then some, uses cilantro. I don’t do Mexican out anywhere either for the same reason and it takes hours to get that taste out of my mouth. I’ll make my own, but I don’t use cilantro and don’t keep coriander as a spice either. I also don’t eat celery and rarely will use parsley and only the curly. The flat leaf is too strong. Both of my daughters inherited… Read more »
Hugs on that, Theo. A friend of mine has the same problem and it’s not easy, eating out in some places. But at least you can make these rice paper rolls with ingredients to suit your own taste.
Theo – I have the same issue with cilantro and coriander! I also have the same problem with German wines – I can’t even smell them, much less swallow! My husband really didn’t believe me (he LOVES German wines AND cilantro) until he took a German wine course and the prof said it’s not an uncommon reaction!
Oh dear, Constance, so annoying to be unable to eat cilantro and coriander AND unable to drink German wines. I wonder what’s in the wines that irritates you. My dad, who was an asthmatic, used to react badly to wines with certain preservatives in them. He was hospitalized several times until he decided it was easier to drink beer or whisky. <g>
I’m glad he finally gave up drinking the wine! You know, a lot of wines have sulfites in them, that’s what usually causes the severe headache a lot of people suffer the morning after. But many also have mold in them and I wonder if the German, and some other wines have more than others because that’s terrible for asthmatics.
I don’t know that I’ve had any German wines. I wasn’t much of a wine drinker when I was young and now, have a few local wineries that are amazing so tend to stick to those for the most part. But anything in the cilantro family is just…it seriously tastes exactly the way Dawn dish soap smells. And makes me gag. And it’s hours before it goes away. I can smell it in the produce section when I get near it. Nice but at the same time awful to have a kindred spirit ;)
I first was introduced to these rice paper rolls (or Spring Rolls as they’re called here) when our son made them for us, as he had really gotten into cooking when he was in college. He always groaned when asked to make them again, I think he made them for everyone for awhile and he got burnt out! Alas. Well I finally found a decently easy recipe with instructions and now make them myself. We love the spicy peanut dipping sauce ourselves. Yours look beautiful. I imagine only the most perfect ones get served at restaurants so I’d never judge… Read more »
Thanks, Michelle. Interesting how the language varies from place to place — we also have spring rolls, but they are made with a different wrapper (like won ton wrappers) and are invariably cooked and served hot, whereas rice paper rolls can be cooked, but generally aren’t, and are served cold.
The spicy peanut sauce is yummy, I agree, but I don’t make it just for me, only when I’m making them for other people.
Here’s a recipe for home made Spring Rolls (as they’re called in Australia)
Your rice paper rolls sound awesome! I may have to get brave…
No need for bravery, Binnie Syril — just watch the videos I linked to, and use the ingredients of your choice. The rolling is the trickiest part. And don’t leave the ricepaper in the water too long — just dip it in to wet it, then out — because it’s a bit like rolling glad-wrap (saran-wrap?)