Rice papers are available at my local grocery store, and at your local Asian shop. They are opaque and rigid when dry and flexible and almost translucent when moist. To use them, fill a bowl with hot water. Then dip each rice paper into the water for about 10 seconds. Place it on a clean tea towel while you dip two or three more. Then place the fillings on each one and fold over one side. Tuck the top and bottom in and roll closed. Place the roll on a plate with the seam side down while you make the rest of the rolls. In the same way glutinous rice is sticky, the rice paper is tacky to touch and rolls up perfectly into tight packets. A collection of Vietnamese rolls make a refreshing summer dinner, served with rice or salad. Or a very impressive appetiser.
Vietnamese Summer Rolls
adapted from Green Mangoes and Lemon Grass: Southeast Asia's Best Recipes from Bangkok to Bali by Wendy Hutton
makes 15 small rolls
1/2 c (125 ml) water
1/4 c (75 ml) rice vinegar
2 t lime juice
1 t fish sauce or soy sauce
225 g ground pork
15 rice papers
1 carrot, shredded
5 spring onions, chopped
15 lettuce leaves
Put the water, vinegar, lime juice, and fish sauce or soy sauce in a saucepan. Bring to the boil.
Add the minced pork and boil for about 5 minutes.
Drain the pork and discard the cooking liquid.
Prepare a large bowl of very hot water. Place one rice paper into the water for 10 seconds, then place onto a clean, dry tea towel. Repeat with two more rice papers.
Place a lettuce leaf in the centre of each rice paper. Add the pork, carrot and spring onions.
Fold the right side over the filling, then fold in the top and bottom. Fold towards the left to make a tight roll. Place it on a plate with the seam side down. Repeat with the other two rice papers.
Continue to make rolls using the rest of the rice papers.
The fillings can be easily adapted to include prawns (cook in the vinegar mixture), bean sprouts, snap peas, mint leaves, and coriander leaves.