Rice paper wrappers are super thin, crisp, circular sheets made of rice flour, salt and water. A quick soak in warm water and they soften to create the slightly chewy, tasteless skins that we wrap spring rolls in. That may not be the most appetizing description but if I’m keeping it 100 – as the young people say – rice paper wrappers on their own are bland at best. To me they’re simply the vessel built to hold all of the crunchy goodness I stuff inside.
You can find rice paper wrappers in most grocery stores these days but if your local doesn’t have them, check the nearest Asian market.
Working with rice paper wrappers isn’t difficult but it can be tricky. You’re in luck because I’m sharing tips that will make it a cinch.
Tips for Working With Rice Paper Wrappers
1. Rice paper wrappers have to be soaked in water until they’re pliable enough to wrap. The water should be lukewarm. If soaked in water that’s too hot they’ll disintegrate right before your eyes.
2. Be prepared to work quickly. Even if your soaking water’s the right temp, leave your wrappers in for too long and – you guessed it – they’ll disintegrate.
3. Be gentle. Rice paper wrappers are fragile when dry and they’re equally fragile once they’re soaked. Remove them from the water and have a clean, smooth work surface ready to place them on. Any crumbs or glitches in your surface can rip them.
4. Wrap your spring rolls as tightly as possible. This is critical if you’re planning to cut your rolls in half before serving. If your rolls are wrapped loosely, your filling will spill out if it’s not held snugly in place.
Shrimp & Slaw Spring Rolls
You can fill spring rolls with a variety of fillings. Because this particular recipe doesn’t require frying, choose fillings that are edible raw or that are already cooked. My go-to is the tasty slaw mixes in the produce section – standard cabbage and carrot slaw, broccoli slaw and Asian slaw have all made the cut in my kitchen. I also like to toss in cooked shrimp. Slice them in half horizontally, so you get two flat shrimp-shaped pieces from one shrimp, and they’re the perfect size (and shape) for adding to your rolls.
Again, in the spirit of keeping it 100 (% real for those of you who don’t have the benefit of a 12-year-old in your home to keep you up to date), my favorite part of spring rolls is the sauce. Not just any sauce, MY sauce. It is the bomb.com, which I don’t think the hip people say anymore but I like it and it fits here. Like the spring rolls, it’s simple to prepare especially if you’ve stocked your pantry with the right Asian essentials. If you haven’t, by the way, get on that! And get on making these spring rolls! Make me proud and fill them with your favorite things and let me know how it went so we can trade filling stories. How will we decide who goes first? Easy! Rice…Paper…Wrappers, Shoot!
- 1/2 cup Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
- 12 medium cooked shrimp
- 12 rice paper wrappers
- 1 12-oz bag slaw
- Stir all sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Cut shrimp in half lengthwise. Fill a large bowl with warm water. Dip one rice paper wrapper in warm water until wrapper becomes soft and pliable, 10-15 seconds. Remove wrapper from water and lay it flat on work surface.
- Place 1/3 cup slaw in a straight line across the bottom of the rice paper wrapper, leaving a 1-inch border at the bottom and on the sides. Top slaw with two shrimp halves.
- Fold the bottom of the wrapper over the shrimp and slaw filling. Fold the sides of the wrapper over the filling and roll tightly. Repeat with remaining wrappers and slaw. Cut spring rolls in half and serve with sauce.