I first attempted summer rolls (or rice paper rolls) like these a few years ago, and I simply could not master them. The rice paper wrappers kept tearing, no matter how gentle I was, and they had a funky smell. That was a packet of 50 rice paper wrappers, so I had plenty of room for trial and error, but nothing worked. So I shelved it (along with homemade hummus, which I swore I wouldn’t attempt again for at least 10 years after the first disastrous attempt. I did give the hummus another go recently—indeed, 10 years since the last try!—and the results were mediocre, which is not what I was hoping for, but certainly a vast improvement, so I’m willing to try again without waiting another 10 years.)
Every summer I see rice paper rolls popping up on all the blogs and recipes sites I follow, and they look so tempting—fresh and crunchy with all kinds of interesting dipping sauces. So a few weeks ago I decided to free myself of my latent rice paper resentment and have another crack at it. I bought three different brands of rice paper, spent some time researching techniques for successful rolling, and waited until I had time to work on it without being rushed for time. Trying to do fiddly things under pressure rarely ends well.
I discovered that the brand of rice paper seems to make a huge difference! From the three I tried, the one that worked easily and had no smell was the Natural Earth brand. I’m sure there are other good ones, too, but that’s what’s been working best for me. I also found that soaking the rice paper very, very briefly is crucial. Too long and they tear.
Everything else you need to know is in the detailed directions below, and here are some pictures that will help you.
This is what rice paper wrappers look like before you soak them. Afterwards they are virtually translucent.
Cut your vegetables very finely. This will help prevent the rice paper from tearing.
Step-by-step pictures of how to roll them. (This is my preferred method, you may…