My father used to say, “eating is about fooling the mouth and pleasing the tummy”. In other words, good food should be palatable but healthy at the same time. Typically, healthier dieting options aren’t always a taste bud pleaser. Luckily, since I’ve discovered the secret to maximizing one’s diet with Vietnamese rice paper, I have been using these thin carb papers to encase healthier but less palatable items such as raw vegetables. But aside from its intended use in Vietnamese salad rolls, there are many other recipes that this versatile ingredient can be part of. Let’s take a closer look at its different roles, from appetizer to dessert.
Crispy Rice Chip
Rice chips are delicious and have lower calories than your traditional potato chip. However, did you know that simply frying your Vietnamese rice paper gives you results like that in the image below? Featuring this crispy, Michelin star caliber appetizer at house parties has generated plenty of hype. To create these results, use ½ a cup of vegetable oil heated to medium heat over a frying pan and lay a single sheet of rice paper in the pan until the chip color becomes styrofoam white.
To add a creative touch to the traditional sushi, I tried using rice paper to hold the contents of my sushi into a burrito-like roll. While packing this for lunch, I found it helped keep the roll together, whereas the traditional sushi often falls apart in Tupperware containers. Before using the wrap, add some lukewarm water to a plate and soak the paper for 30 seconds in the water to soften the texture. Then begin building your sushi wrap with proteins, veggies and spicy mayo.
A friend of mine gave me the brilliant idea of using rice paper to create these Greek appetizers. Spanakopitas are nutrient rich with stringy cheeses and spinach. However, I often dread having to purchase the special pastry needed to package the filling. Using rice paper has several advantages here, it is simpler to use than flaky pastry, and also healthier, as it contains less greasy, saturated fats.
Fruit and Veggie Rolls
Why stop at vermicelli, shrimp, and carrots in your average salad roll when you can improvise with fruits and quinoa? Salad rolls help you keep a balanced diet without diminishing the quality of the food. It’s as if the wraps “fools” your palate into thinking you’re ingesting a carb-loaded meal.
If you’re looking for an alternative to your regular spring roll paper, this is it! The rice paper delivers a much crunchier texture than the average spring roll pastry and, again, offers fewer calories. If you close your eyes and take a bite out of spring rolls made of rice paper, you might even believe the rolls came from a gourmet dim sum restaurant.