Tonight's meal was a Vietnamese Spring Roll with a quick peanut dipping sauce.
Those papery-spring roll wrappers have had their share of bullying. Many people, including me, have been beaten by them. That is unnecessary, though. You just have to know a few tricks and you can pull off delicious spring rolls. Once you have some easy insight into rice-paper-wrapper-secrets, there is no end to the creative possibilities.
My rolls have jicama, pepper, mint, basil, chive, cucumber, bean thread and carrot in them. You can put anything in them you want: lettuce leaves, tofu, cilantro, nuts, mushrooms, etc. The list goes on.
What tends to be intimidating with the rice paper is the soaking: soak it too long, the sheet literally dissolves. Soak it not long enough and you are eating paper.
You need to have your water pretty warm and dip your rice paper wrapper into it. Only dip it long enough for it to become pliable, so you can roll it and not have it break. There is no need for it to be soft enough to eat at this point. Place it on your board, fill it moderately, wrap half way, folding both ends in, add a few julienned pieces of veggies, sticking out over the edge and finish rolling. The moisture in the veggies will finish softening the paper to a perfect consistency.
No more guesswork.
rice paper, bean thread: $2
carrot, pepper, jicama, cuke: $3
peanut sauce: $.75
Total to make 15 rolls: