Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

food painting for the vegetarian cookbook by Fiona Morgan
Fresh. Versatile. Thrifty. Fun.


Food painting artwork

30 x 30cm acrylic on board. Can you sense the translucency of the rice paper? The freshness of the fillings? The simplicity of this dish?

All artwork is available to own in the Official Art Store. This particular painting is drying and will be made available soon for $150. To find out the instant it's ready, get on the collectors list, yellow box top left.


The meatless meals recipe

Rice paper rolls, in case you haven't had the delight of trying them, are like a tasty little salad meal in an edible wrapper. Eaten cold, they are perfect for hot days. I love making these at home because I get to fill them any way I like, which incidentally is with a little cucumber, loads of lettuce, enormous quantities of mint and a touch of tofu fried in soy sauce and sherry.

This recipe is more like a collection of ingredient suggestions and some pointers on how to construct the rolls than a set of instructions. Fill them however you like!

You will need:
rice paper roll wrappers, they are usually sold in packets of at least 20 for just a few dollars and are about 20cm in diametre.
lettuce - a soft variety or finely shredded leaves to prevent tough pieces poking through the wrapper

Your choice of other fillings, here are some ideas:
cucumber, sliced in lengths
fresh coriander or vietnamese mint
fresh mint
chopped peanuts
spring onion, chopped fine
glass/vermicelli rice noodles, these often only need to be soaked in cold water to be ready to use, but follow the directions on the packet
bean sprouts
carrot, in thin sticks
egg, beaten with a little soy sauce and sherry, fried into an omelette shape and cut into strips
tempeh (as is) or tofu (preferably marinated/pre-fried - I suggest a soy sauce and sherry mix)

Suggested dipping sauces:
Peanut (mix peanut butter, a little oil, a little water and a dash each of soy sauce, chilli, sugar and sherry to taste)
Soy sauce (a dash of rice wine vinegar added in can be quite enjoyable)
Sweet chilli (fresh minced chilli or sambal oelek with a little rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar and sugar, to taste)

Construction tips:
The rice paper wrappers only need to be dipped into warm water for about 30 seconds to be ready to use. I fill my largest flat bottomed frypan with very warm water and dip the wrappers in as needed. They are ready when they have become soft and pliable, which is almost straight away. Also, they stick to themselves once ready so I never prepare a stack of them, just one by one.

I've tried adding the dipping sauce into the unwrapped roll. It doesn't work. The roll becomes very slippery and difficult to roll, sauce squirts all over the place and then the roll won't stick closed. My recommendation is to save the sauce for dipping.

To make a roll, put the soaked wrapper on a plate and fill the middle with your fillings of choice. Leave room around the edges for wrapping.
Fold over opposite 'ends' up over the filling.
Fold over one of the remaining ends also.
Now the bit that takes a little practice. It is easier to do than to explain. Roll the lot towards the final open end. Fold over and compress the fillings as necessary to make them fit.
The wrapper sticks to itself so just press the roll to itself at the end.
Here, let me show you:

3-6 rice paper rolls will make a meal for one, depending on how hungry you are, the type of fillings you use and the amount you manage to stuff into your rolls!


More vegetarian cookbook goodies

Need help with cooking conversions? Download this handy dandy pdf of cooking conversion charts for every cooking measuring system I could find. It should make your life easier.

Where are the rest of the vegetarian dinner recipes? They're all in the Table of Contents.

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