What is rice paper and how to use it for home cooking

Recipes from the South of Thailand
These soft rice paper wraps are a must-have to create authentic Thai spring rolls

What is rice paper and how to use it for home cooking

Rice paper or spring roll wrapper are a super thin and almost completely translucent flat sheet, popularly used for making fresh summer rolls (salad rolls) or fried spring rolls.
Though, there are so many other ways you can experiment with them.

How to prepare and use rice papers

Rice paper
Rice paper, ready to fill and roll!

Rice papers are usually created from a mixture of white rice flour, tapioca flour, salt, and water - which make them naturally gluten free and vegan friendly.
They are usually sold dried in thin, crisp, round sheet form. Before using them, you will need to rehydrate them to make them soften and pliable. Add cold or warm water to a shallow dish or bowl that is wider than the size of rice papers.

We recommend working with one sheet at a time. Dip a whole sheet in the water for a few seconds, shake it gently to drain the excess water then place it onto a flat work surface.
If it is too wet, leave it air dry for 1-2 minutes or place it on a dry kitchen towel, then it can be molded into the shape you want and wrapped around the other ingredients.

Alternatively, you use damp kitchen towels to wrap a sheet for a few seconds until it is moist and workable. Once softened, the papers are glutinous, smooth and edible without cooking. They are neutral in taste which allows you to create any type of flavors for the fillings, savory or sweet dishes.

How to store rice papers

They are easy to store, you just need to keep it in a cool, dry place, away from humidity, heat and direct sunlight. Once the package has been opened, place it into a resealable bag or airtight container, and then put away in a cupboard.

5 ways to use rice papers (beyond rolls)

Fried Rice Paper Chips
A really easy snack recipe made out of rice paper!

1. Fried Rice Paper Chips

This is very easy to make, you do not need to soak the rice in water, just fry a dried rice paper sheet and you will get a crispy and crunchy chips or puff.
The steps are easy and do not take much time to cook. Prepare the rice paper by cutting each sheet into smaller pieces (4-8 pieces) or if your pan is big enough, you can use the whole sheet. Heat oil in a saucepan and deep fry it for about 10 seconds. You don’t need to use a lot of oil to fry the papers, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Remove the cooked sheet from oil and drain on a paper towel to soak up any extra grease.
The rice paper chips are good to eat with any curries, dips or sauces, or try seasoning with salt, paprika powder, black pepper, and Parmesan cheese.

Vegan Rinds
Vegan rinds made from fried rice paper!

2. Vegan Rinds or Bacons

For an alternative idea for vegan dishes, you can use rice paper to make pork rinds or bacons.
Cutting the rice paper sheet into a long strip (or bacon shape) and add vegan bacon seasoning to the papers, then deep fry or bake it. For more flavorful bacon, you can make your own home cook marinade with soy sauce, liquid smoke, water, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and nutritional yeast. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Then prepare your rice paper by dipping the sheet in marinade and laying the strip on the oiled cookie sheet and sip another rice paper strip in the marinade and lay it flat on top of the first. Place the cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 7 minutes.
Some recipes recommend putting seasoned firm tofu between the strips to add more texture and flavor to the baked vegan bacons.

Rice Paper Pizza
Pizza made from a base of rice paper instead of dough.

3. Rice Paper Pizza

You can make a thin crispy pizza from the rice paper too. Choose your favorite ingredients for topping – we recommend sliced shallot, green onion, and minced pork, chicken or tuna and egg.
You should prepare the topping by stir-frying the shallot, green onion and meat, seasoning with soy sauce or oyster sauce. Then fry the paper sheet in the pan, add the egg on top and scramble until the egg is set (not fully cooked but not runny). Then add in the cooked ingredients on top of the sheet, flavor it with cheese or other sauces like Sriracha sauce or mayonnaise.

Instant Dumplings
Rice Paper Dumplings are crispy on the outside, chewy, and filled with flavourful goodies on the inside.

4. Instant Dumplings

Typically, dumplings need to be cooked by streaming, but you can use the rice paper for a cheating technique to save time.
Prepare the dumpling filling with cabbage, carrot, garlic, ginger, mushroom. Shred all the ingredients finely and season with soy sauce and sesame oil.
Cook the filling in the pan then use damp rice paper sheets to wrap the mixture in a dim sum shape.
Then it is ready to serve.
If you want your dim sum to be crispier, you can deep fry it.

Ramen noodles
Rice paper can stand in for rice noodles when you don't have time to run to the store.

5. Ramen noodles

If you run out of ramen or rice noodles and cannot find them anywhere, you can use rice paper as a replacement and the preparation is easy.
Use the damp kitchen towel to wrap the rice paper for a few seconds just to make it softened enough to roll, but not too wet. Apply a bit of cooking oil on the whole sheet to prevent it from sticking together. Roll the sheet tightly and use a sharp knife or scissors to slice the wrapper into small strips. Then unroll the rice paper -- you can unroll the strips by using a chopstick, and now you will get fine rice noodles ready to use.
Or if you have a pasta machine at home, just slide the wrapper inside. After that just add the noodles into the hot soup and eat.

These are just examples of how you can create delicious dishes from rice papers, you can now experiment and discover your own recipes.
We also offer more creative ways to use the wrappers in our article 3 Ways to use Rice Papers.