Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Rice paper wraps = Leftover Heaven

wraps with baby greens, roasted bell pepper, sprouted lentils, and fermented cauliflower

How did I not know about these before?? Now that I've become friendly with my local Asian grocer, I can finally ask, "What is this?" And boy have I learned a lot!  When I used to see rice paper wrappers, they looked like too much work for me. I assumed getting these plasticy looking sheets into an edible form must involve soaking, cooking, steaming, or some other processing. Not so!

1. Dip the rice paper sheet in water for about 5 seconds, then brush the sheet over a tea towel to remove excess water.
2. Lay the sheet, still rigid, on a plate or cutting board. The sheet will absorb the water and soften in the time it takes to fill it.
3. Pile your fillings  near one side and roll up like an egg roll, blintz, or burrito.

translucent wrap with wild mushrooms, wakame, and homemade kimchi-kraut
The rice paper wrappers can also be layered like gluten-free lasagna. However, they will melt into nothing with any prolonged cooking.

My favorite thing to put in rice paper wrappers is a cooked vegetable-based leftover, like:
stir fried veggies + home grown sprouts + kimchi, sauerkraut, or other fermented veggies.

wakame before and after rehydration
They are a great platform for combining boring leftovers into an exciting, fancy meal or appetizer.

Rice paper rolls, or "summer rolls", are a great place to hide seaweed, sprouts and other healthy things you know you should eat more of. Wakame (image right) is particularly easy to find, store, and prepare. If you're in a hurry, just add a little boiling water, or soak in in cold water for longer. I like to crumble it into small pieces before I rehydrate it and add some soy sauce.

Been foraging? Purslane is in season. Not only is it extremely high in Omega-3 fatty acids and the best vegetarian source of EPA, it's a great addition to summer rolls!

Summer rolls can also be made ahead of time. This is very useful if you are making appetizers for a party, or trying to turn today's odds and ends into tomorrow's Bento Box lunch.


  1. Thanks for the ideas! I've never cooked with these that I can remember. A number of years ago, I met a woman from South Korea, and we spent quite a bit of time together, as I was helping edit the translation of her dr. thesis. She cooked for me several times, and taught me how to make sushi and I forgot what else. I wish I would have kept making the things she taught me so I could remember how. I don't think she used the rice papers, but I'm not sure. I'll have to get some and try this. (She was living in Canada the last time we emailed each other, but I think she was going to have to go back to S. Korea. (I'm Sue from Gardening with Nature in Mind. I have a blog, too.)

  2. And then what? Do you steam, fry, or bake them, or can they be eaten as it? How are they heated up, or are they eaten 'cold'?

    1. You eat them as is. You can warm them very gently or put warm ingredients in them.



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