How do you roll rice paper rolls?
Preparation is key
Before you start dipping any wrappers, prepare all your fillings and workspace to make rice paper rolls:
- Cut vegetables into thin matchsticks around 3-6 mm thick and between 6-10cm long, depending on the size of your wrappers.
- Wash and dry greens, shred leaves and pick herbs.
- Cook, cool and slice your choice of protein (chicken, prawn, tofu etc.).
- Soak dried rice noodles in boiling water and drain. Use scissors to cut noodles into manageable size and coat with dressing.
- Organise a board and damp tea towel in the centre of your workspace, position water bowl for dipping next to it.
- Arrange ingredients in order of use and position within easy reach.
- Have a suitable dish or container to hold your prepared rolls, with more damp tea towels to cover and a lid (see more tips for storing finished rolls below).
Make one rice paper roll at a time
Since there is only a short timeframe where the wrapper is flexible and easy to work with, dip and roll one at a time.
Use cool tap water to dip wrappers
The best tip for successful rice paper rolls is to use cool, room temperature water for dipping. Never warm water!
Warm water softens the rice paper too quickly, making them stickier, hard to handle and more prone to breaking.
Don’t dip wrappers for too long
Dip your rice paper wrapper in the water for 10 seconds at most. The rice paper may still feel a little crisp, place onto a damp tea towel and wait a few seconds and it should soften.
Keep your preparation area damp
A damp, clean tea towel on your preparation board is great for beginners. It helps to keep the rice paper moist, reduces the chance of it sticking to your surface and absorbs any excess dripping.
Don’t overfill your rolls
Much like tacos and burritos, when filling rice paper rolls, less is more.
If it’s overfilled, it’s difficult to roll and you run the risk of the wrapper bursting. If there’s not enough filling, your roll may be a bit small and skinny…but you’ll still have a roll!
How to roll a rice paper roll
Place ingredients in the lower third of the rice paper (the third closest to you). Stack ingredients on top of each other, leaving at least 2-3cm clear of fillings on all edges.
Wrapping a rice paper roll is much like rolling up a burrito. Start by picking up the rice paper wrapper from the end closest to you, pulling it over the fillings to enclose them.
Fold both sides in towards the centre, then complete by rolling the whole roll away from you. You should end up with a log type shape with the filling completely enclosed.
Why are my rice paper rolls sticky?
Rice paper will naturally become sticky once wet. If your wrapper is too sticky to roll, try dipping it in the water for less time or working on top of a damp tea towel.
Rice paper rolls will also stick together after being made, see below for how to store them.
Why do my rice paper rolls keep breaking?
Your wrappers may be too wet, and therefore too soft. Ensure the water is cool or room temperature, and try dipping the wrappers for less time.
The wrapper might be too tight around the fillings, causing breakage. Try rolling them more loosely.
The wrapper might have dried out too much and stuck to your work surface. Try placing a damp towel on your work surface, dampening your existing towel a bit more, or wrapping the roll more quickly.
Another tip you can try is beginning with a bed of rice noodles or soft greens for your ingredients to stack up on. This will protect the wrapper from being pierced by any of the harder ingredients.
Why won’t my rice paper roll stay closed?
The wrapper may be too dry, so it doesn’t have the necessary stickiness to stay rolled up. Try dipping the wrapper in water for a few more seconds.
Can you refrigerate rice paper rolls?
Yes, you can. Place completed rolls in your designated container in a single layer. If stacking, separate layers with cling film.
Cover with a damp, clean chux or tea towel. Tightly wrap with cling film or cover with lid to prevent the rolls from drying out. Refrigerate.
Rice paper rolls are best eaten the same day they are made.