Why we love fresh and healthy rice paper rolls

 

Rice paper rolls and chilli sauce

What we love most about rice paper rolls is that they are made for sharing!

Not only that; but they can easily be prepared in advance, or ingredients laid out for family or friends to make themselves, and an added benefit is the recipe can be adapted no matter where you live, to include your own fresh local produce.

So today we’ve drawn on our food experiences from both Australia and South East Asia to bring you ‘our favourite family versions.’ Hailing from Vietnam; (a country Jo and I have both visited and savoured its fresh cuisine) rice paper rolls are the ideal finger food to share in warmer climates, particularly over the upcoming festive season. Rice paper rolls are also a simple ‘throw together’ meal, even if you don’t manage to make anything else.

Rice paper rolls also tick all the boxes when it comes to kids and food….sitting down together with your family to make these is a perfect way to encourage kids to engage with their food…no need for formalities here. In our experience, the kids love to ‘don their chef’s hat’. They get to use their hands; choosing ingredients and taking control of what flavour combinations they prefer. It’s a chance to get creative! And as long as an assortment of colourful options are available, you can be sure they are getting a good variety of nutrients with every delicious bite.

Rice paper rolls ingredients
It’s all about texture and crunch. Guests will love digging in and making their own!

Liz’s poached chicken, assorted vegetables & kemangi rolls

Makes 12 rice paper rolls

Ingredients
For the rice paper rolls
2 poached and shredded chicken breast fillets
1 packet of rice paper wrappers
1 packet of rice vermicelli or cellophane noodles
1 large handful of fresh *kemangi (Indonesian basil)
1 large handful of fresh coriander leaves
2 carrots grated
2 cucumbers finely sliced
1/2 capsicum finely sliced
1/2 red onion finely sliced
1/2 cup roughly chopped peanuts

For the dipping sauces
1/4 cup sweet chilli sauce
Or
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp sweet chilli sauce
Or
3 tbsp Hoisin sauce and 1/2 cup roughly chopped peanuts

Method
For the rice paper roll
1. Poach the chicken breasts in a saucepan of stock for about 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through and tender. Shred the chicken into 5cm pieces.
2. Bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil. Boil rice vermicelli for about 8 minutes, or until al dente, and drain. Rinse thoroughly with cold water so they don’t stick together. Set aside.
3. Wash herbs and tear into 5 cm lengths, grate the carrots, finely slice the cucumbers, capsicum and red onion and roughly chop the peanuts.

For the dipping sauces
In a small bowl, mix the fish sauce, water, lime juice, garlic, sugar and sweet chilli sauce.
In another small bowl, mix the Hoisin sauce and peanuts.

To serve
Lay the chicken, vermicelli, carrot, cucumber, capsicum, red onion, coriander,kemangi and peanuts out on a large platter, accompanied by a bowl of hot water, a pile of rice paper wrappers and the dipping sauces.

Assembling the rice paper rolls
1. Fill a large shallow bowl with hot water (but not boiling).
2. Dip wrappers into the water one by one until they soften (about 4-5 seconds). Luke Nguyen recommends adding an additional half wrapper to give the rice paper roll strength.
3. Place noodles, chicken and fillings of choice in a row across the centre of each rice paper, leaving about 5cm of the wrapper uncovered on each side.
4. Fold in uncovered sides of wrapper, then tightly roll to enclose the filling. Repeat with remaining rolls.

Cook’s notes
Vietnamese born Australian Nahji Chu, provides the following very useful tips:

  • Don’t submerge the rice paper in water for too long; no more than four or five seconds
  • Work fast so the rice paper doesn’t dry out
  • Don’t overfill each rice paper roll
  • Don’t put rice paper rolls in the fridge, they need to be at an ambient temperature
  • Never eat rice paper rolls the day after they have been made
  • For best results, prepare rice paper rolls no more than 4 hours before eating (or prepare as you eat!)
Rice paper ingredients and papers
Simple and fresh, easily sourced ingredients found in Jakarta supermarkets and pasars

Rice paper packet and papers

Rice papers and water

Rice paper and filling

rice paper and filling 2 copy

Rice paper rolls and chilli sauce up close

Jo’s two favourite rice paper roll varieties: Prawn & Mango and Hoisin Chicken & Bengkuang

Fresh, tasty and nutritious. What's not to love?
Fresh, tasty and nutritious. What’s not to love?

Prawn and mango rice paper rolls

Makes 12 rice paper rolls

Ingredients
36 prawns freshly cooked (allowed to cool)
1 large firm yet ripe mango sliced thinly
1 continental-style cucumber (partially peeled and cut into thin lengths)
1 large bunch of coriander (thoroughly washed)
1 large bunch of mint (thoroughly washed)
200g cooked vermicelli noodles (allowed to cool)
12 rice paper roll wrappers

Method
1. Prepare all ingredients and place in bowls
2. One by one, wet a wrapper (do not let it become too soft) and arrange contents along the middle, allowing sufficient space (approx. 5cm) either end for the roll to be folded correctly

Aligning the ingredients in our prawn and mango roll
Aligning the ingredients in Jo’s Prawn and Mango rolls

3. Fold in top and bottom of wrapper, then tightly roll to enclose the filling
4. Repeat with remaining rolls and serve with Liz’s Hoisin sauce or a light sweet chilli dipping sauce (recipes above)
5. Selamat Makan!*

Hoisin chicken and bengkuang rice paper rolls

Makes 12 rice paper rolls

Ingredients
500g chicken strips
1/2 medium sized bengkuang* (peeled and julienned finely)
1 large bunch of coriander (thoroughly washed)
1 large bunch of mint (thoroughly washed)
200g cooked vermicelli noodles (allowed to cool)
3-4 tbsp Hoisin sauce
12 rice paper roll wrappers

Method:
1. Marinate the chicken strips in Hoisin sauce for at least 1 hr (marinate in the fridge)
2. Prepare all other ingredients and place in bowls
3. Remove chicken from the fridge and fry until cooked thoroughly. Allow to cool
4. One by one, wet a wrapper (do not let it become too soft) and arrange contents along the middle, allowing sufficient space (approx. 5cm) either end for the roll to be folded correctly

Hoisin and bengkuang rolls
Hoisin and bengkuang rolls.. let the rolling begin!

5. To serve, either place on plate with dipping sauce (see Liz’ Fish sauce & lime dipping sauce above), or alternatively carefully cut each roll in half and stand rolls in middle of serving plate
6. Selamat Makan lagi!

Lunch is served
Lunch is served
By carefully cutting the rolls in half you can expose the colour of the ingredients whilst still keeping the wrappers in tact
By carefully cutting the rolls in half you can expose the colour of the ingredients whilst still keeping the wrappers in tact

*Selamat Makan: Enjoy your meal!

*Bengkuang: is an edible tuberous root more commonly known as a ‘jicama’ or a ‘mexican turnip’. Uncooked, it is an excellent source of Vitamin C and is also a great source of fibre. Bengkuang can be added to Indonesian spring rolls (‘Lumpia’) or also to coleslaw to add an extra crunch. It can be bought at your local Indonesian supermarket or pasar.

*Kemangi: A distinctly lemon scented herb with bright green, narrow, oval leaves, also known as Indonesian lemon basil. It can be purchased from the fruit and vegetable section of your local supermarket, pasar or mobile food cart. Kemangi can also be easily grown in a pot or in your garden. We explain here.

We believe one of life’s pleasures is sharing simple food with family and friends. What about you?

Want more information about local ingredients or some extra fresh & healthy recipes that use locally sourced ingredients? Check out the links below:

Tropical Fruits of Indonesia
Quick and Tasty Asian-Inspired Noodle Salad
Jeruk Bali, Goats Cheese and Pearl Couscous Salad
How to Make this Aromatic Meal in a Bowl: Soto Ayam
How to Make Simple San Choi Bao
Hidden Treasures in Indonesian Cuisine with Petty Elliott

Words: Liz and Jo  Photography: a journey bespoke

Comments

    • ajourneybespoke says

      Hey there Sharee! We wish you were here to sample our recipes too. Next time you visit I’ll be sure to make these rice paper rolls for you. They really are delicious and the kids love them as they can tailor them to their own taste. The plate is very Marimekko-inspired but not the real mccoy..it’s a local purchase from Jakarta which caught my eye as soon as I walked into the shop. Anyway, take care and bye for now, Jo and Liz 🙂

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