On Easter, Christmas, Birthdays, and special events within my family, I was always asked to bring rice paper rolls– everybody loved them, but nobody could be bothered rolling them. I quite like the repetition and simplicity of the task, plus it’s a great opportunity to sit down, get into it, relax and catch up on a podcast. I’m obsessed with podcasts; This American Life and The Moth– you’ll rarely find me cooking without being tuned in to one of their episodes.
My favourite thing about rice paper rolls, is the amount of colour you can stuff into each one. Biting into its rice-y flesh reveals a rainbow of vegetables that are bound to make you smile, and all this colour is really, really good for you. We’re encouraged to ‘eat a rainbow’ for a reason; behind every unique hue is a phytochemical with its own plant power just waiting to work their magic. Phytochemicals provide disease-preventing powers, shielding us from things like free radicals and oxidative damage. When we eat bad food, drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, walk around a polluted city and use chemicals to clean our houses, we’re coming into contact with free radicals and increasing our exposure to oxidative damage. We can’t escape it, but we can eat our way to preventing its affect on our bodies.
All deeply pigmented fruits and vegetables contain phytochemicals; think pumpkins, eggplant, tomatoes, pineapple, kiwifruit, spinach, blueberries and broccoli. Without getting too ‘sciency’, choose brightly coloured fruits and vegetables and you’ll be well on your way to better health.
Rice paper rolls are the most delicious way to enjoy whatever colourful things you’ve got handy in your fridge. Simply chop, marinate, soak and wrap and you’ve got the simplest, chrunchiest, most flavoursome combination between a chewy sheet of rice that is perfectly satisfying.
- 10 rice paper sheets
- 1 packet of tempeh
- 1 thumb-size piece of ginger
- 2 tblsp tamari
- 1 tblsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 1 lebanese cucumber, sliced into 10 sticks
- 1/4 red cabbage, shredded
- 1/4 a papaya, sliced into 10 pieces
- 10 sprigs coriander
- 5 spring onions (the top green part), halved horizontally
- Slice tempeh into 10 even slices, then into a large bowl or container.
- Combine the tamari, ginger, rice wine vinegar, maple syrup and coriander and pour over the tempeh, ensuring it it well covered. Leave to marinate for at least an hour.
- In a fry pan, heat 1 tsp coconut oil and lightly fry each piece of tempeh over medium heat on both sides. This takes about 1 minute on each side, and you're looking for a golden colour.
- Set aside a bowl of hot water, big enough to slip each rice paper sheet into, to soften and ready to roll.
- To make each rice paper roll, start by placing a small handful of cabbage into the middle of the rice paper, followed by a piece of papaya, a piece of tempeh, a piece of avocado, a piece of cucumber, a piece of spring onion and a sprig of coriander.
- Roll each rice paper bundle following this simple video.
- Roll and repeat!