I cannot go to Saigon (the restaurant) without ordering their rice paper rolls. It’s been that way for a long time, and when I decided to try and master them at home, they were just as delicious, despite possibly lacking in good structural form. Slightly wonky, but packed with colourful vegetables and herbs, I came to the realisation that it is the perfect food item, whether it’s eaten as a snack or a meal, The possibilities are endless with this translucent roll, so let me tell you why you should be reaching for a rice paper roll as often as you please.
It’s healthy and suitable to most dietary requirements
Obviously this is entirely dependent on what you put inside but traditionally they will be stuffed with fresh raw vegetables, prawns, rice noodles and/or pork. Since the only starch is made from rice, the roll is gluten-free, and if you don’t put too many rice noodles inside, the calories can be very low. Also if you don’t add meat, they are vegan. It’s good to include some protein however, to make sure it’s a balanced meal, so why not try seared tuna, grilled prawns, grilled pork or even tofu or legumes.
The possibilities are endless
You can literally use whatever ingredients you like as long as they are raw, fresh and crunchy. Don’t be reluctant to break away from tradition and experiment. When I made them, I combined traditional ingredients like sprouts, coriander and carrots with less traditional like pickled radishes. Also make sure you include herbs, you can include coriander and mint or even basil, because it’ll give the rolls that extra flavour so that you don’t have to drench them in dipping sauce.
You can have it on-the-go
They make an ideal lunch box addition, as they hold nicely and offer a lighter, healthier alternative to your regular tortilla wrap. It’s best to keep them in the fridge, but take them out about 40 minutes before eating so that they can be enjoyed at room temperature.
They are great for a crowd or as party food
You can prep these and lay them out and they will hold nicely. They are also easy to eat and can be cut up to bite-size just like sushi, and if you pack them tight, there shouldn’t be any spillage. You could also get friends involved in making them by laying out all the ingredients and letting everyone create their own.
Who doesn’t love a bit of dipping sauce? Traditionally these are served with peanut sauce or satay sauce, which I’ll admit I can’t sway from. But you can, again, concoct this however you like, so if it’s plain old soy sauce you fancy, or wasabi mayo, then go for it. See this recipe for Satay sauce.