Also known as
Vietnamese Rice wrappers, Spring roll wrappers, Rice paper
Synonymous to its name, rice wrappers are made from rice flour and water dough. Widely used in Asian cuisine, it forms an integral part of spring rolls. Vietnamese usually add salt to the dough before making the wrappers. It is a round, tissue-thin 'crepe', rolled in machines to get the paper thinness and dried in the sun on bamboo mats, which result in the cross design pattern being embedded on each sheet. There are different varieties which come under the same branch. Rice paper, wonton wrappers are also a part of rice wrappers. The only difference between wonton wrapper and rice wrapper is that egg is added to the rice flour dough. The dough is then rolled out to smooth flat thin sheets which are usually cut into desired shapes and sizes. Rice paper on the other hand is extremely thin and used by Britishers to line tins while baking macaroons.
Points to keep in mind while using rice wrappers
· Wrappers will be brittle and thus immerse wrapper in warm water for 3 to 4 seconds and then remove when you observe the edges of the wrapper softening,
· Ensure you don't over fill the wrapper with fillings; keep enough space to fold the wrappers. Too much filling may tear the wrapper when rolled. Also ensure minimum pressure while sealing the wrapper.
· To prevent wraps from drying out, cover with a damp paper towel around the top and sides of the wraps till ready to serve.
How to select
There are different sizes of ready-made rice wrappers available in stores. Not all varieties will be paper thin. Thickness may vary and one can use as per recipe demands. The smallest wrappers are used for making dainty, cocktail rolls. The standard-size wrappers usually come in packets of 20 sheets. The large-size wrappers are too big for general use, so they are usually cut in half or into strips for making samosas and similar snacks like spring rolls.
· It is most prominently used as a wrapper for spring rolls. It is not necessary to deep fry these spring rolls. Vietnamese wraps use fillings made with bean sprouts, vermicelli etc which are then wrapped in individual rice wrappers. These are then dipped in cold water till transparent. The fillings can be clearly seen through the wrappers which make them all the more beautiful to the plate.
· Apart from this common use, small pieces of meat and fish which are eaten by hand are also wrapped in these rice wrappers.
· Deep fry rice wrappers and then serve with dips of your choice. This is a quick and easy snack to make.
· Steam or simply poach in a clear broth to give body and texture to clear soups.
· Serve rolls made with rice wrappers with dipping sauces like Hoi sin, Sichuan sauce, sweet and sour sauce or peanut sauce.
· There are other methods of making rice wrappers at home if you don't want to purchase from outside. However, it includes making of a batter instead of dough. To make rice wrapper at home,
1. Combine 1 cup rice flour, 3 cups water and salt to taste in a bowl and mix well to make a smooth batter. Keep aside.
2. Fill a steamer with 2/3 level water and keep to boil. Cover the top of the steamer with a muslin cloth/ cheese cloth and secure the edges tightly (like for panki).
3. Brush the cheesecloth with little oil and when the water begins to boil, pour ½ ladle of batter on the cloth and spread it around in a circular motion (like one would do for dosa).
4. Cover with an inverted lid and cook for few seconds.
5. Carefully lift the corners using a spatula and remove the cooked rice wrapper onto a plate.
6. Use the remaining batter to make more rice wrappers. Use as required.
7. Once cooled, dust some flour between each wrapper, place in zip lock bags and store in the freezer till use.
How to store
Always store the wrappers in zip lock bags in the freezer. Frozen wrappers bought from stores must, however, be thawed thoroughly before use, or they tend to stick together. Any unused wrappers can be re-frozen, but should be carefully wrapped in foil so that they so not dry out in the freezer.
Where to buy
Available at large super markets such as Food Bazaar in India,