In my life before children I used to eat at a vietnamese restaurant at least once a week. It was not a flashy place, they had no table cloths and the rips in ancient vinyl chairs were mended with gaff tape, but oh man was the food good. Every time I went I ordered the same thing, rice paper rolls.
The restaurant is gone now, and I will never make rice paper rolls as good as theirs, but our homemade rice paper rolls are still pretty good, and they are a great way to use up leftover roast chicken!
Some of you might call these ‘summer rolls’ but my kids and I know them as rice paper rolls. They may look fancy and difficult to make, but in fact they are so easy, the kids can make them!
You can fill your rice paper rolls with whatever you like, but don’t forget the rice vermicelli noodles and a scattering of mint! Apart from those two essentials, fill them with a variety of veggies, leftover roast meats or even get a little fancy and add some prawns.
Our favourite filling is left over roast chicken, carrot, cucumber, and shredded lettuce.
They are made with rice paper which you can buy at the supermarket as packets of hard, round, opaque sheets. It looks a bit like plastic when it’s dry, but you soak them in water for a few seconds and they become soft and pliable and you can fill them with goodies and wrap them up ready to eat.
There is no cooking required to make these, so while you may need to help the kids cut up the fillings, once that is done the kids can do the rest. Putting it all together and rolling it up is not as hard as it looks.
The kids can choose whatever fillings they like, and while some of the rice paper rolls may turn out a bit wonky looking to start with, they will still taste good!
You’ll need a damp tea towel to work on (so the rice paper doesn’t stick) and then it just a matter of folding and rolling. As long as you don’t overfill your rice paper rolls, the rice paper is very forgiving and the more you make the better you’ll get at it.
Step 1 – with the filling in the centre, fold the left side over and tuck it under the filling as best you can.
Step 2 – fold the top down
Step 3 – fold the bottom up
Step 4 – roll it all over.
You’ll find the rice paper will stick to itself and you’ll have a neat little package of deliciousness!
We made a quick video to show you how it’s done…
- rice paper
- rice vermicelli noodles, soaked until soft and drained
- leftover roast chicken cut into strips
- veggies such as carrots, cucumber or capsicum cut into thin straws
- lettuce or chinese cabbage – shredded
- mint – roughly chopped
- Prepare all your fillings and have them within reach.
- Fill a large bowl (big enough to dunk the rice paper) with water.
- Place a damp tea towel on your work surface
- Dunk a sheet of rice paper into the bowl of water for 20 seconds, or until it just begins to soften. Place it on the damp tea towel and add your filling in a long narrow pile in the centre.
- Fold the left side of the rice paper over the filling, tucking it under as best you can.
- Fold the top and bottom of the rice paper into the centre, then roll everything over to make a nice neat package.
- Serve with a soy or peanut dipping sauce.
I miss eating at that funny old vietnamese restaurant, and I miss their delicious rice paper rolls, so every now and I set the kids up chopping veggies, and soaking rice paper, and I sit back, eating rice paper rolls and pretending I am back there. Unfortunately I have to share with the kids, and help clean up the kitchen afterwards, but it’s still pretty good.
Do your kids like to cook?
Try one of these easy, kid-friendly, recipes :