What Is Rice Paper And How Do You Use It

Rice paper has been having a moment on TikTok. Videos detailing recipes using rice paper have received more than 1.3 billion views. While the word rice paper may sound peculiar to some, fans of Vietnamese cuisine know that rice paper is innocuous. And it's completely edible.

Many will associate rice paper with Vietnamese spring rolls (also known as summer rolls). With rice papers available at Asian grocery stores, you can make yourself spring rolls right at home. Rice paper is a clear, edible wrapper made from rice flour, tapioca flour, salt, and water. They're typically sold dried and dehydrated. Rice paper used to not have tapioca flour, so it took some time for them to soften up. Now, rice paper can instantly rehydrate with a touch of water. But, rice papers can be sensitive and require delicate hands. There are several techniques to make sure you don't over-hydrate the paper.

How to properly wet rice paper

Using rice paper can be simple if you get the rehydration technique down. To rehydrate rice paper, you just need to submerge it in water. But, timing is key — if you submerge rice paper in water too long, it becomes too wet and unusable.

Cookbook author Andrea Nguyen shares simple tips to prevent over-soaking. Get a bowl — ideally as wide as the rice paper itself — and fill it with "bathtub warm" water, Nguyen tells Food & Wine. Submerge and quickly rotate the rice paper and do one final dunk. In seconds, the rice paper should get soft enough to roll.

Now, you can build your spring rolls. Traditional Vietnamese spring rolls vary in ingredients, which are largely based on region. Nguyen suggests using thin ingredients so they won't break through the delicate rice paper. For her spring rolls, she uses thinly sliced cucumbers and tofu, baby greens, carrots, and herbs like mint and basil.

Try making pizza and dumplings with rice paper

For many people, TikTok is a platform to share and learn new recipes of popular, international dishes as well as completely made-up ones. Besides using rice paper for spring rolls, it can be incorporated into nearly any dish. Rice paper is an item that people don't shy away from using on the online platform.

A popular Vietnamese street food called bánh tráng nướng, also known as Vietnamese pizza has gone global thanks to TikTok. @nutritionbykylie, also known as Kylie, shared a recipe for street food that has received 5.3 million views and 438,000 likes. In the video, Kylie can be seen heating rice paper on a pan. Chili oil and an egg are then added to the rice paper base. The pizza is then topped with scallions, mayo, and sriracha. In five minutes, you will have Vietnamese pizza perfect for breakfast.

Who knew rice papers were so versatile?