Rice paper is used for wrapping food. These are thin wrappers made Traditionally of white rice flour, water and salt. Rice paper is so thin that you can easily see whatever is wrapped inside. Most of the time, rice papers are used to wrap pork, shrimp, vegetables and even rice noodles too. Depending in the size of the paper wrap you want, you can add more fillings as long as you please. In today’s post, we will be showing you how to use rice paper wrapper.
How To Use Rice Paper
Before we proceed on how you can use rice paper, let us first talk more about what are rice paper wrappers. Rice paper wrappers as mentioned is made of rice, water and salt but nowadays tapioca starch is now used to make the wrapper more thin thus it would be easy to roll and fold even with fillings on it.
Most rice papers are approximately 8.5 inches in diameter. There are other different terms used for rice paper that can be used interchangeably: rice papers, rice wafers, rice wrappers and rice paper wrappers or its Vietnamese name called Banh Trang. Rice paper are often used as a substitute to wrappers that are used in Asian cuisine such as wheat flour wrapper that is used for making spring rolls, lumpia wrappers and or wonton wrappers. The only difference is that, rice papers are glute free.
How to make rice paper wrapper?
Making the perfect rice wrapper is pretty easy. In making rice paper by hand follow the steps below:
- Soaked rice overnight.
- The following day, turn soaked rice into a milky-like texture by grinding it.
- Add Salt and a little water.
- On a piping hot stove, spread rice paste (spoonful) and form a round shape. You can use the typical size which is 8.5 inches but you can also modify the size according to your preferences.
- Dry one rice paper at a time by transferring it to a bamboo or woven mat using a rolling pin.
- Allow to dry under the sun.
Where can you buy rice paper wrapper?
Depending on your location, rice paper are usually found displayed on International aisle in your local grocery store and you can also find rice paper wrappers sold in most Vietnamese and or Chinese stores. But an easy way to buy rice paper is by going through online.
There are a few things you need to keep in mind when choosing rice paper wrappers and that includes:
- Since some rice papers are made from tapioca starch, make sure not to purchase the one that is made with 100% tapioca starch, but rather choose the wrapper made with rice and tapioca.
- Rice papers are gluten free since it uses gluten free ingredients. That is why it is important to look at the label to check if the rice paper is indeed gluten free.
- The original size of rice paper is 8.5 inches since with that size it is easier to make rice paper rolls than rice paper that is too small or too big.
How to store Rice paper?
It is essentially important to know how to properly store rice paper. For opened packages of rice wrapper, you can start by wrapping it using a food-grade plastic wrap, then place it on its original packaging and placed inside the refrigerator.
For unopened packages, it can be stored in the pantry. There is no need for you to put it in the fridge.
When handling rice paper, make sure your hands are dry before removing it from its packaging. Touching it with wet hands will make them stick to each other.
Once rice paper packaging is opened, you do not have to use all of them at once (depending on your need). Putting it in an airtight container or the most common zip lock bag to prevent it from being too exposed to open air.
Now let us go through how rice paper is used:
Rice paper is usually sold as dried thin sheets that is why before using the sheets you need to rehydrate it first. After rehydrating the sheets using room temperature water, rice paper rolls can now be used and eaten (similar to that of Vietnamese summer rolls) especially when used as fresh rolls. Aside from that, rice paper wrappers can also be fried and become delicious crispy rice paper.
Wrapping rice paper rolls is pretty easy and simple, although it will take some time to master it but in the long run with more practice you will get better each time.
Here’s how to rehydrate rice paper (when taken from its packaging) before using it:
- In a shallow dish, add cool or room temperature. Make sure dish is wider then the size of the rice paper you will be using.
- Take one sheet at a time then slide into the dish with cold or room temperature water and leave it there for a few seconds only.
- Remove the moistened rice paper and place on a working surface. A flat surface is recommended. Leave it there for 1 minute for it to be flexible.
- Fill the rice paper with fillings and then roll it into perfect rice paper rolls.
Softening rice paper wrappers depends on the tapioca starch content.:
- Rice Paper with Tapioca Starch 100% content- using a damp towel. place rice paper wrapper in between. Tap it gently for a few seconds to soften it.
- Rice paper with 100% rice – Submerge wrapper in water to soften it.
- Large Tapioca to Rice Ratio: The larger the ratio of the Tapioca Starch, the lesser the submerge time. Large Tapioca content is make rice paper more thinner).
Here’s how to wrap rice paper:
Wrapping is simply, it just like wrapping a burrito or spring rolls. Follow the simple steps below to wrap:
- Rice wrapper placed on a flat surface, place desired fillings in the middle portion (specifically middle third portion) of the wrapper.
- Take the lower edge of the wrapper and bring it up then over the fillings placed.
- Fold both sides of the wrapper by bringing each side towards the inside.
- Slowly and firmly, roll the remaining part of the wrap all the way. Use your fingers in keeping the fillings in place while working your way rolling up to the entire wrap.
It cannot be avoided that there will be some tears while rolling up the wrapper but not to worry though as you can easily overlap the edges of the torn wrapper and continue rolling until the end.
Tips on how to do perfect rice paper rolls
Rolling rice paper may seem easy to look at, but rolling for the first time might be difficult for some. Here are a few tips that might actually help in rolling rice paper rolls:
- Always use one rice paper at a time. Rice paper tends to stick together especially when held using wet hands.
- Use cool or room temperature water to dip rice paper wrappers. Although for some warm water is used. Warm water actually softens the rice paper easily that makes them easier to stick with each other. When that happens, a very softened paper will be hard to roll and is prone to tearing.
- The longest time for dipping rice paper is between 5 to 10 seconds but should be no longer than that.
- Your working area should be kept moist so that rice paper towel sticking together will be avoided. You can use a damp clean towel.
- When it comes to fillings the rice paper with desired fillings, make sure not to overfill and just put enough fillings. If you overfill the paper, chances are the wrapper will burst and it will also be difficult to roll.
Best Rice Paper Recipes:
Vietnamese summer rolls
The most famous Summer rolls in Vietnam is usually served as an appetizer. The fillings used in these rolls are vegetables that are finely chopped, rice is sometimes added and is usually served with a delicious dipping sauce.
Thai Summer Rolls
If rice paper roll does not stay closed or remain closed, it is probably because the wrapper is too dry that is why it does not stay closed.
Yes, rice paper rolls can be refrigerated. Just make sure to place it in a single layer container and be extra careful not to stack them up to avoid sticking together. However, it is advisable to eat rice paper rolls as soon as it is made.
When rice paper rolls gets wet it becomes sticky but if the rice paper is very sticky making it difficult to roll, make sure to dip it in water only for a few seconds.
Using rice paper in making rice paper roll recipes can be fun and super easy to make. Whether you are making it for a family gathering or preparing all the ingredients to that the family can wrap their own rolls can be a fun experience that each family member can participate too.
With patience and doing it more often, use rice paper will now be easier for.
We hope that this guide has helped you understand more about rice paper and how to use them.