John D Lee is a chef and restauranteur living and working in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He's always loved to cook.
You have to love that CRUNCH!
Buy an inexpensive package of Asian spring roll wrappers and then start experimenting with adding fried crunchy goodness to any old meal!
After you've procured yourself a frozen package of spring roll wrappers, you will not believe how easy it is to make great spring rolls. But although these wafer thin squares of dough do roll up nicely into an Asian-style spring roll snack, why limit yourself to the tastes of the Orient? Spring roll wrappers can be incorporated into the flavors of any cuisine and add a surprising and very tasty bit of crunch to any meal idea.
What Kind of Spring Roll Wrappers to Buy?
In truth, there is only one kind of spring roll wrapper, but these are sometimes confused with egg roll wrappers or with rice paper wrappers (which are used to make fresh Vietnamese style rolls).
- Egg roll style wrappers are thicker and usually smaller—and they look like egg pasta. These are not what you want.
- Rice paper wrappers are dried and brittle and are an almost translucent white. Don't get these either.
- Spring roll wrappers are made from wheat flour and water and are generally sold frozen. They are very thin and resemble filo pastry in appearance. They are generally sold in about 4-5 inch square package sizes.
Keep these in the freezer indefinitely, removing wrappers as you need them.
How Do You Use Them?
You can roll your chosen filling up either by closing (folding over) the ends as you wrap, or by leaving the ends open. To seal off the rolls, mix together a small quantity of water and flour to form a paste-like glue. Add a dab of this flour to the end corner of your wrapper paper and this will hold your seal.
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How Do You Flavor Them?
As an idea to get you started. Take a single spring roll wrapper out and lay it flat on your work surface. Add on about 2 Tbls of grated carrot and a small pinch of salt.
You are going to roll this up "open ended" style like a cigar to add crunch, visual interest and savory taste to your plate, but you should also add in a complimentary seasoning that matches with the flavor profile of your dinner.
- If you are cooking a Caribbean meal, you might add in a scant tough of ginger or cinnamon and, after frying, add another pinch of cinnamon outside.
- If you are cooking Italian, you might add in a pinch of fresh thyme with the carrots and serve with a tomato "salsa" in an olive oil and garlic dressing.
Add in any spice or flavoring that would compliment the carrot (or whatever other filling ingredient you choose) and the other main ingredients on the plate.
Alternatives to Rolling?
You can also cut the wrappers into halves and fry them in oil flat. When they are crispy, you can use them on your plate to create very professional looking napoleons! Try layering in flavored root vegetable purees between slices of fried spring roll pastry…delicious!
Or, fry them flat and toss them in flavored sugar for a crunchy garnish to your favorite dessert.
Or, proceed as above with the sugar, but layer in ice cream and fruit sauces for an impressive homemade ice cream sandwich!
Pick up a package the next time you find yourself in an Asian grocery store and start playing around with these very versatile and very tasty sheets of crunch!