Top: Vietnamese Summer rolls with shrimp (here’s the recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. Second: Vietnamese Spring Rolls with added fruit (photo California Strawberry Commission). Third: Rice paper wrappers (photo © Denzel Green | CooksInfo.com). Bottom: Traditional packaging (photo Three Ladies Brand).
ABOUT RICE PAPER
Rice paper is a name for everything different products, including edible paper and decorative papers, including wallpaper. The edible kind, made from rice flour, is the white, translucent wrapper used for Vietnamese spring and summer rolls, chilled and raw or fried and hot. They can be used to wrap savory or sweet ingredients—or a combination.
Here’s more about rice paper from CooksInfo.com.
Beyond traditional spring and summer rolls rolls (here’s the difference between spring rolls and summer rolls), you can make lots of fusion food. Some of the uses we’ve tried:
Asian ravioli (i.e., dumplings) with an Asian sauce or an Italian sauce (pesto or olive oil).
Baked salmon in “parchment” (the rice paper becomes “edible parchment”—recipe).
“Leftovers” rolls: proteins, noodles/pasta, salmon usually) and soba noodles, raw or cooked vegetables, grains, beans, legumes, etc.
Salad rolls/crudité rolls, with your favorite raw veggies.
Wrap “sandwiches”: curried chicken salad, smoked salmon, tuna salad, BLT (bacon, butter lettuce, halved cherry tomatoes).
Some supermarkets carry rice paper in the Asian products aisle; or get them from an Asian grocer or online. They may be called spring roll wrappers or spring roll skins.
RECIPE: DIY SPRING ROLLS
This is a fun dish made by each person at the table, like Moo Shoo Pork. We first had it at a Vietnamese restaurant in Paris in our late teens, and it was love at first bite: grilled beef and fresh mint wrapped in butter lettuce leaves with condiments.
We’ve since added rice paper for do-it-yourself spring rolls. You can make them vegetarian or add a grilled protein of choice.
Set the table with ingredients of choice. You can use them all (we do) or make a selection of five or so.
Basil or cilantro, freshly minced or shredded
Butter lettuce leaves
Chiles, thinly sliced
Fresh fruit: mango, blueberries, strawberries, apple
Fresh mint sprigs (substitute basil leaves)
Green onions (scallions), thinly sliced
Protein: grilled beef or tuna slices, shrimp, crab, etc.
Red cabbage, shredded or made into slaw with Asian vinaigrette*
Rice noodle vermicelli, cooked
Rice paper wrappers with bowls of warm water
Optional: Asian chili sauce, sambal olek†, watercress or baby arugula, whatever appeals to you
Dipping sauce: choose from Nuoc Mam Cham (recipe below), peanut sauce, chimichurri sauce (especially with grilled proteins), Asian-style vinaigrette†, or other sauce of choice.
*Asian vinaigrette: For 1/2 cup, combine 2 teaspoons unseasoned rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1/2 cup olive oil or other salad oil, 1/2 teaspoon dark/toasted sesame oil, 1/2 small garlic clove finely grated. You can also add a squeeze of fresh lime juice and/or grated lime zest.
†You can make your own sambal olek simply by grinding chiles with water to form a paste. We used a mortar and pestle.