Perfecting rice paper rolls

Sunday, August 11, 2013 Permalink

Before I get down to business, I have to start with a couple of disclaimers. And no… this isn’t a sponsored post.

Although you may well think me perfect (given my track record documented here in this blog) I need to make it clear that I’m not a food blogger. In fact, I’m not a foodie. At all. In all honesty, I have a post written for my other blog (languishing in the drafts folder) called ‘The opposite to epicurean” – which is what I am.

My second admission is probably less of a surprise and relates to the fact that I consume less than the recommended 2 servings of fruit and 5 servings of veges each day. Well, in that I consume NO fruit and only a couple of servings of vegetables.

I do however, aspire to be a healthier eater. Occasionally – for example – I’ll try something I perceive to be ‘healthy’ and decide it’s something I should pursue.

Which has been the case with rice paper rolls.

I’ve long been a fan of the spring roll – sadly a treat which disappeared from my diet after my coeliac diagnosis. I realise the fried treat isn’t *ahem* even vaguely low-fat; so in more recent years I have partaken in its brother-from-another-mother: the occasional rice paper roll – ostensibly fairly healthy and packed with veges (of some sort) and I haven’t completely hated them or gagged.

So, with the vision of me sitting down to ‘clean’ and heathy lunches, a few years ago I attempted to make my own rice paper rolls. And it was a disaster. Or worse. I swear the instructions told me to put the rice paper in boiling water and yet suddenly there was a gluggy mess forming before me.

In retrospect I’m wondering if I actually put a few sheets in there at once, but I’m rejecting that memory – preferring to blame the manufacturer’s instructions. 😉

However, I recently decided to (again) try my hand at the perceived healthy delicacy.



I’ve now got the dampening / wetting of the rice paper down pat. And I no longer need the ‘how-to-roll’ instructions on the packaging. The only thing I’m still ‘perfecting’ is the filling.

My first attempt involved cooked chicken, grated carrot, capsicum, onion and some peas and corn with some fresh herbs. I heated the mixture before wrapping it and was amazed at its deliciousness.

A couple of nights ago I decided to up the ante a bit and pack the rolls with loads of healthy stuff.

I settled on chicken mince and vermicelli noodles along with an easy (peas, capsicum and corn) frozen vege mix and some sauces. I did however, have to trawl the supermarket looking for suitable ‘healthy stuff’ to include.

Carrot was a no-brainer but I wanted something green and leafy. I visualised rolls I’d had in the past with bean shoots or cabbage and the like. I spent hours minutes in the vege section looking at pre-prepared mixes. Most were almost completely cabbage (which I wasn’t sure what a good thing even though I DO live alone) so settled on one which included lots of colours. It was however, a salad mix and included slithers of carrot, cabbage, beetroot and broccoli stems. (The latter two elements being cause for concern in my world!)


I cooked up the mince with some onions, garlic and herbs (fish sauce, oyster sauce and sweet chilli sauce) along with the shredded mix and some frozen veges and cooked vermicelli. Once prepared I wrapped the mixture in my rice paper rolls – sufficiently dampened after being dipped in warm water and laid out on a damp tea-towel.

The rolls were okay, though one of the shredded vegetables (the broccoli or beetroot I suspect) gave them a slightly strange taste. So, it seems, I need to continue to work on the fillings.

Of course I had leftovers for lunch the following day and the day after that again went scratching about to find something edible and decided to make the ‘quick & dirty option’, which I must admit was actually just as nice.

My simple version involved mixing some BBQ chicken with frozen veges (I used a peas, corn and carrot mix), herbs, sauces and fried noodles. I zapped the mixture in the microwave to cook the veges and heat it through before wrapping it in the dampened rice paper. Very fast and easy.

And as for spring rolls…
Although I’m more than happy to eat hot chips or other fried goods (cooked by others), the idea of deep frying ANYTHING myself seems ridiculously unhealthy. My rice paper roll package tells me I can deep-fry the prepared rolls to make spring rolls. I tried ‘spraying’ the rolls with olive oil spray and baking them. It worked in that the rice paper was warm and yummy, but… they didn’t go crunchy and despite the spray they stuck to my baking paper. So, I need to work on perfecting that as well.

Nevertheless, I possibly ate more vegetables during the rice paper roll dinner and lunch than I did in the previous week, so I guess that’s a good thing.

Any rice paper roll experts out there?
Any suggestions for fillings?
Or suggestions for making faux spring rolls?

PS. Perhaps I’ll have a food-blogging career yet; as I also recently shared an old fave EASY chocolate fudge recipe in my Debbish blog!


  • Char
    August 11, 2013

    I was first introduced to rice paper rolls at a Vietnamese restaurant and wondered how I’d managed to get so old without tasting such deliciousness. They served theirs with salad vegetables and chicken that had been cooked in a peanut-based sauce. Yum! The best part was the bits of mint and the dipping sauce and that I walked away feeling like I’d eaten only healthy food.

    • Debbish
      August 11, 2013

      Oh yes, I just dipped mine in sweet chilli sauce – lazy! But yes, I could go down the satay route as well as I like peanut based sauces.

  • Laurie
    August 12, 2013

    I like your easy version. I enjoy the sweet chili sauce as a dip on ones I have had before. Thanks.

    • Debbish
      August 12, 2013

      Yes, I thought I might suss out some other frozen vege mixes (with more variety) and use one of those with pre-cooked chicken in future.

  • Jo Tracey
    August 12, 2013

    We have them a lot in the summer- duck and mango, prawn and vegies, pork mince & rice noodles. They’re great as a starter for a barbie. I had some this morning here for breakky made with a pumpkin rice noodle filling and served with chilli sauce. Just gorgeous.

    • Debbish
      August 13, 2013

      God – you’re far more adventurous than I (plus you’re a great cook!).

      (Well that and I don’t eat pumpkin, mango or prawns….)


  • Jo Tracey
    August 12, 2013

    Oh, I meant to say how impressed I was when I saw you’d done these the other day 🙂

    • Debbish
      August 13, 2013

      I know! I may well become a food blogger. (Or not!) I think I’ve only shared one recipe in this blog before! (My chicken pizzas!)

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