January 19, 2011 by Flora Dawn
Today I want to talk about rice paper wrapped salad rolls. They go by quite a few names: Salad Rolls, Rice Paper Salad Rolls, Summer Rolls, Fresh Spring Rolls, Vietnamese Salad Roll, Thai Salad Rolls…there are probably more, but I think you get the idea.
Whatever they are referred to as, the idea is always the same. You start with round rice sheets/rice wrappers (these can be found at Asian markets or the Asian section of your grocery store). They need soaked briefly to soften as they are quite dry and brittle straight from the package. You lay the softened rice sheet flat and fill it with vegetables, rice noodles, spouts, shrimp, meat, or even cubed tofu and roll it up. We like to serve the finished rolls with home made Peanut Dipping Sauce, but you could use your favorite dipping sauce.
Ideally, Salad Rolls should be consumed right after making, however, we think they make a great lunch. Not only do they keep fairly well, but they are healthy, inexpensive, and a great way to use up leftovers. And since they are meant to eat cold or at room temperature, they make great brown bag food; no microwave or fork needed. Personally, we didn’t find the texture changed much from storing them overnight in the refrigerator, but most recipes tell you not to.
I should mention that the texture of the rice papers are a bit unique. I don’t want to say gummy, but they may not appeal or be appropriate for really small children. I gave my three year old the fillings, rather than the salad roll, for fear that she would make a huge mess and possibly choke.
This is how we have made them, but virtually any meat/veggie/herb combo could be used. I think cold rice would also be a good choice if you don’t want to use noodles.
- 8 rice wrappers
- 8 ounces rice noodles (we use vermicelli style), prepared according to package directions-typically soaked in hot water for 3-5 minutes or until soft; drain & rinse with water
- 2 cups bean sprouts (I always cook them for about 3 minutes before using)
- about 1/4 cup cilantro leafs
- 1 cup cooked, cut up shrimp, chicken, pork, etc (we have even used cubed tofu)
- 8 small pieces of butter or leaf lettuce (you could also use shredded lettuce or cabbage if you prefer)
- Dipping sauce for serving
- Place a rimmed baking sheet on the counter and fill with warm water. Next to the baking sheet, place a clean, dry dish cloth, so you will have a place to work. Arrange all of your filling ingredients so you can reach them easily.
- Place a rice wrapper in the water and allow to soften; this should take about 30 seconds, you want it pliable. Remove from water and place on the dish towel. The wrappers are a bit fragile, so handle gently.
- Slightly below the center of the wrapper, place about 1/4 cup noodles, a few sprouts and cilantro leafs and several pieces of meat; leaving an inch or so empty along the sides, to allow for folding. Cover fillings with a piece of lettuce. Starting at the bottom, fold the wrapper over the fillings, and holding it down, fold in the sides of wrapper, and then roll it closed; this is very similar to how you would roll a burrito, although I have also read it compared to rolling a cigar… which I have no familiarity with : )
- The rolls can be served whole or cut in half. Serve with dipping sauce.