Wrap it up: Rice rolls!

29.04.2017 13:44 | Recipes

I have a new favorite: Rice Rolls!

Even though I personally do not have a problem with (high quality) products containing gluten (such as traditional sourdough bread, or soaked/fermented/sprouted barley), I still try to not overrely on them. So I am constantly looking for new ways to replace bread, pasta or flour. This has led to such interesting and culinary discoveries as spaghetti squash pasta, sweet potato tagliatelle, red bean brownies ... or rice rolls. 

What are rice rolls?

Rice rolls are not a new invention. They are quite typical in asia, also known as loempia. The base ingredient is rice paper, which you can fill with whatever ingredient you like. 

What is rice paper?

Rice paper is made by soaking and grinding white rice into a batter. This batter is mixed with salt (and sometimes also with tapioca starch) and thinly spread on cloth that is stretched over a pot of boiling water. After being steamed, the "crêpe" is then dried. It is sold in this dried, paper-like state. In order to use it, you must wetten it again, so it becomes soft and "rollable". I found organic rice paper that only contains white rice, water and salt. 

Wait a minute, did I say WHITE rice? Isnt that "bad" for you?  Yes and no. 

YES, because whole grains do contain many nutrients and fiber, wherease "white", refined grains mostly supply starch / sugar to your body. Freshly cooked white rice is especially high on the glycemic index, meaning it can cause blood sugar spikes in sensitive people. Worse, in order to be digested, the white grains might even TAKE vitamins from your body in order to be digested (i.e. B-vitamins). So from that perspective, white rice would be an absolute no-go. 

NO because whole grains (incl. whole rice) should always be soaked, fermented and/or sprouted, because they not only contain more nutrients, but also more ANTI-nutrients, such as phytic acid, that might actually inhibit the absorption of nutrients in your gut. So when your whole grains have not been "properly prepared", they might end up harming you as well. When it comes to rice, whole grain rice is also said to be more prone to contamination with arsenic - a problem that white rice doesnt have, since the arsenic accumulates mostly in the outer shell. Its good to know as well, that when grains are not consumed freshly, but the next day (and not heated to more than 54°C), part of the starch is actually transformed into so-called resistant starch, that doesnt have such a strong effect on blood sugar and even has some positive influence on gut flora. 

Bottomline: So even though white rice is not a healthy food, it wont harm you if you eat it in small quantities in an otherwise nutrient-dense meal! Each rice roll weighs 10g only. I only need 2-3 per meal, which makes a total of 20-30g of white rice. The rest is made up of vegetables, meat, egg, nuts and seeds...

Rice Rolls Ingredients

The base ingredient is rice paper. Apart from that, you can put whatever ingredient you like or have available, for example:

  • Fresh, steamed or "wok-ed" vegetables: spring onion, mushrooms, carrots, leeks, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, courgette, aubergine, sweet potato, corn kernels...
  • Fresh, raw vegetables: carrots, roquette (arugula), lettuce, dandelion greens, fresh or dried tomatoes, cucumber, avocado...
  • Protein: duck, chicken, beef, lamb, shrimp, fish, egg, (sprouted) cooked lentils or beans...
  • Glass noodles
  • Seeds: hemp seeds, sesame seeds...
  • Spices and taste enhancers: nutritional yeast, sambal, tapenade, capers...
  • Sauces: I suggest making your own sauces rather than buying, for example: pure soy sauce (tamari), mixing 1 tablespoon of tamari with a heaped tablespoon of tahin (sesame puree), coconut yogurt with a bit of soy sauce, yogurt with herbs... 

Instructions

In order to be able to make your rice rolls, you need to wetten the rice paper. This can be done in a variety of ways. Either you can get plastic sheets in a Chinese supermarket (i.e. the one close to St. Catherine in Brussels). In this case you simply put a rice paper sheet on the plastic plate and insert them for a few seconds in a pot with hot water (pressing it down evenly with a wooden spoon) OR you simply put the rice paper sheet between two wet kitchen towels for 30 seconds and then carefully transferring them to a plate. 

Attention: The rice paper is most sensitive when it is wet and can easily tear / stick together. That will rolling it up impossible, so you need to be careful! 

You then put the filling you like in the middle of your paper. Be creative and have fun with that! You just need to leave about 1cm above and 1cm below and more (3 cm) at the sides, so you can roll it all up! You then carefully roll it up starting at one side, making sure to "seal" the endings (when they cool, they will stick together). 

That's it, you can then either eat them right away, or put them cold for later eating. You can either put sauce onto the filling, or eat your ready rolls with some sauce to dip in. 

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