Making rice paper

Welcome to my little corner of culinary delights.

Banh uot is an interest to many although it is not common to the western world.  What is Banh uot?  I did not know until I became a chef.  It translates to “rice paper”.  It is a very thin disc of pulverized rice made by steam cooking a batter made of rice flour and water.  It is used as a wrapper.  Food items are wrapped and then eaten.  I will cover two cooking methods for making rice paper.

This first method would be in the manner of western methods in using a flat shallow pan or griddle plate.  The second method that I will cover is the Asian traditional method using a cloth steam pot.  It is this second method that I prefer.

The batter is very simple.  Sometimes, it is the simple things in life that are the best.  The batter consists of 1 cup Maida with ½ teaspoon of salt mixed in.  1 cup of water is gradually worked in thoroughly.  Then is added 2 tablespoons of oil also thoroughly worked in.  The oil of choice is generally vegetable oil.  However, it can be most any neutral oil such as olive oil or peanut oil.

If using a flat round shallow pan, then get the diameter size suitable for your purpose.  The first few attempts are to discover the amount of batter needed for evenly covering the surface of the pan.  In a nonheated pan, pour in a little amount of batter and tip the pan all around to spread the batter evenly.  Add more batter if necessary. 

In a pot, have some water simmering.  Hold the pan over the steam and allow the batter to cook.  Very quickly, you should notice the batter getting translucent.  That is a sign that the rice paper is sufficiently cooked.  Remove from heat.  Very carefully, use a tool to loosen the edges first and work slow toward the center until you can lift the rice paper out.  Put it on a flat rack to dry.

What is Maida?  It is not made from rice.  Therefore, the rice paper we just made is a counterfeit.  Maida is milled wheat with a consistence of cake flour.  Now for the real thing.

Take a cup of long-grain rice and soak it in water overnight.  Then work the rice with your hands and rinse.  Do this three times.  And then add 2 cups of water and pour into a blender.  Use this blender to pulverize the rice in the water to a batter.  There is a more extended method that I prefer.

Make for yourself a cloth steam pot.  Use a tight woven cloth that does not stretch and has never been bleached.  It must be tightly held down covering the top of a large pot.  Once up to steam, ladle some batter onto the cloth.  Spread it around with circular motions using the back of your ladle.

Until next time, peace to all.