Rice paper rolls - do you like them hearty and fried, or light and refreshing? Do you have a favorite dipping sauce or dressing?
Though I had never made them, I always had loved eating them in any way! So I set out to learn how to make rolls, seeking guidance from sites on the Internet and YouTube. At first, I was very intimidated by the rolling process, but, after watching several videos, and with a little practice, I found that my hesitation wasn’t warranted. The most common rolls are Vietnamese spring rolls. They are normally wrapped in a wheat/flour skin and deep fried, giving them the crunchy exterior that we know and love. The usual ingredients are pork, shrimp, glass noodles, mushrooms, and shallots, but there are many different varieties. These rolls are served hot and are dipped in a soy sauce or fish sauce. A traditional Vietnamese summer roll has a transparent skin made of rice paper, is not fried, and is typically served at room temperature. The inside bursts with flavor from an assortment of herbs, raw vegetables, rice vermicelli noodles and pre-cooked shrimp, poultry or pork and even fruits. These rolls can be accompanied by a dipping sauce.
To avoid fried food, I made summer rolls with the thin rice paper wrappers. To explore possibilities, I used some Western ingredients in rolls appropriate for breakfast, lunch/dinner and dessert. The ingredients showcased contrasting textures and flavors. I also made dipping sauces to complement two of the rolls. Let’s get started! It’s most important that you have all the ingredients that will be placed in the roll at the ready. In other words, julienned vegetables, thinly-sliced fruits, cooked rice vermicelli, chopped herbs or whole ones depending how you want to use them, washed lettuce, and cooked and sliced protein. How to prepare the roll: 1. Prep rice paper wrapper: Place room temperature water in bowl large enough to submerge
rice paper. 2. Moisten wrapper: Working with one rice paper at a time, dip wrapper in the water for 10
seconds at most and place onto a lightly moistened cutting board. It will continue to
soften in seconds.
3. In the lower third of the rice paper, begin to stack fillings on top of each other, leaving an
inch or two clear of fillings on the side edges. Place the most important ingredient of the
roll as the first piece of filling before you continue to fill and roll. 4. To wrap: Start by picking up the rice paper wrapper from the end closest to you, pulling it
over the fillings to enclose them. Fold both sides in towards the center, then complete by
rolling the whole roll away from you. You should end up with a log shape with the filling
completely enclosed. 5. If you would like to prepare rolls somewhat in advance of serving, place each on a
slightly damp dish, do not let the rolls touch each other or they will stick to one another,
and place a damp tea towel over the top until ready to eat.
Breakfast Roll (2 pieces) Ingredients 2 rice paper wrappers 1 tablespoon butter 3 eggs, beaten, add salt and pepper 4 slices of bacon, cooked until crispy, and then trimmed of fat 1/2 of an avocado, thinly sliced 1 cup fresh spinach 2 slices of Swiss cheese, cut in half Fresh chives Preparation 1. In a small skillet, add butter and melt over low heat. Pour in eggs and cook without
stirring, until they are set. This process takes about 10 minutes. Do not turn over. 2. Once egg is set, transfer to cutting board.
3. Cut rounded edges so that you end up with a square shape. Cut the square in half as you
will use a half in each roll.
4. Place on a cutting board the egg halves, sliced avocado, spinach, chives and slices of
5. Follow instructions above to assemble your roll. Be creative here as I was. I started with placing down two small spinach leaves, then the egg, followed by one half slice cheese, bacon, avocado, spinach, second half of cheese and chives. You could also start with placing the chive strings down in a pattern, followed by egg, etc. Lunch or Dinner Roll (2 pieces) Ingredients
2 rice paper wrappers Duck or chicken, cooked and sliced in strips* 1 half of a medium mango, sliced julienne 1 large shallot, chopped and sautéed until crispy 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds Vermicelli, about 1 cup cooked *Here, use your judgement on how much. I estimated I used only about 2 ounces of duck in each roll.
Preparation 1. Prepare the rice paper roll as instructed above. 2. Sprinkle some of the sesame seeds on the rice paper, followed by strips of duck,
followed by mango slices, vermicelli, crispy shallots and finish with more sesame seeds. 3. Roll and serve with dipping sauce. Dipping Sauce: Ingredients 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce 1 tablespoon honey 1 tablespoon orange juice Preparation Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and serve with rolls.
Dessert Roll (2 pieces) Ingredients 2 rice paper wrappers Strawberries, kiwi, banana sliced thin* 6 fresh mint leaves *Again, use your judgement here, you only need about 4 pieces of sliced fruit for each roll, but you could add more to your liking.
Dipping sauce: Ingredients 1 tablespoon Nutella 1 tablespoon heavy cream
1. Mix the two ingredients well in a small bowl.
2. Just before serving, heat in microwave for 15 seconds and serve alongside fruit rolls.
In conclusion, I really enjoyed mastering the rolls and eating them. I could see where it would be fun to make them with company in your kitchen. In fact, I’m sure grandchildren would love it. Why not roll up some left-over spaghetti and meatballs (sliced of course) and serve alongside warmed tomato sauce.