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How to Hydrate Rice Paper Wrappers for Spring Rolls

The best way to make these delicate wrappers ready to roll.

A staple in Asian cooking, rice paper wrappers are used in a variety of applications, including Vietnamese summer rolls and Thai spring rolls. Made from a paste of rice flour and water that is stamped into bamboo mats and dried, these brittle rounds must be rehydrated before use. But exactly how you rehydrate the wrappers can impact how easy (or challenging) they are to work with. We tested two variables—water temperature and the length of the soak—to create recommendations.

Use cold water: After dunking wrappers into hot, warm, and cold water, we found that the hotter the water, the faster the wrapper hydrated and turned sodden and sticky. Cold water moistens the wrapper more slowly, which gives you more time to work.

Don't soak for long: Soaking the wrappers for too long causes them to become oversaturated, so a 2-second dip is all that's needed. The wrapper will continue to soften as you work; once you add the fillings, it will be stretchy enough to roll but not so fragile that it tears.

Good

A quick dip in cold water yields a stiff yet pliable wrapper that softens as you roll.

Bad

A longer or hotter soak yields a sodden, fragile wrapper.

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