10 Best Rice Paper Dumplings Recipe (Pan Sear Or Air Fry)

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A popular street food among school kids in Vietnam, bánh tráng nướng features a lightly crispy rice paper cracker layered with any number of delicious toppings. This version is slicked with scallion oil & loaded with scrambled egg, crisped pork belly, sweet chile sauce, & more.

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Jenny is a professional chef, author & speaker specializing in interdisciplinary storytelling fusing food with social good. Her food và work has been featured in outlets such as Food Network, Oxygen TV, Eater, Food và Wine, Bon Appetit, among others.
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Wetting và sandwiching the rice paper wrappers gives the resulting cracker more structure và ensures it becomes light và crispy, not dense và plasticky.Using metal utensils khổng lồ hold the rice paper wrappers down keeps your hands safe from the heat.

“Some dishes just belong khổng lồ the street vendors in a particular place, & you have to lớn respect that,” says Andrea Nguyen, the James Beard Award-winning cookbook author. She"s talking about bánh tráng nướng, a grilled round rice sheet dressed with egg, meats, sauces, and crunchy toppings. Most popular among school children, the snacks are sold by vendors who typically park their small carts outside of schools with a stack of tiny, brightly colored plastic chairs in tow. “This is kind of lượt thích a junk food for kids, adults don’t really eat this,” says Nguyen with a chuckle. “That didn’t stop me though.”


At Nguyen’s favorite stand in Ho bỏ ra Minh City, the bánh tráng nướng starts with the standard swirl of scallion oil. It's then topped with a freshly cracked quail egg, lớn serve as binder, often followed by a medley of processed foods lớn appeal khổng lồ younger clientele; some vendors opt for Vienna sausages or even potato chips, but at this stand the topping of choice is fried shoestring potatoes, straight from the can. “I hadn’t seen those in years!” Nguyen recounts with delight. Finally, a generous squeeze of sauce—a thick, brown one made from beef jerky juices, though others may địa chỉ a drizzle of mayonnaise. Freshly grilled over a charcoal brazier, these “sweet, fatty, salty hits” are particularly kid-friendly, & offer an interesting peek into the increasingly global preferences of Vietnamese youth.


After having multiple outstanding versions across Ho đưa ra Minh City and Da Nang, Nguyen attempted khổng lồ recreate the dish back home in California. Things did not go well. “Even when I tried lớn make this with my favorite brand, or even brown rice paper, it kept sticking lượt thích bejesus, or just warped or sometimes burned.” Upon further investigation, she found that the rice paper sheets sold in the States are primarily made from tapioca flour—not rice. “So you have an inversion, where there’s more tapioca than rice,” Nguyen says. “Some ‘rice papers’ are actually 100% tapioca!” As a result, instead of crisping like rice paper that's actually made from rice, tapioca-based rice paper has a habit of melting and struggles to lớn retain the necessary structure and shape to tư vấn any toppings. “It’s lượt thích chewing on plastic stuck to lớn your teeth,” she says.

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Eventually, Nguyen gave up on perfecting bánh tráng nướng at home. But the ups and downs of her journey prompted her to lớn examine the assumptions we often make about foods that we view as "cheap eats." Thinking back lớn that day, eating five helpings of bánh tráng nướng while talking khổng lồ her favorite vendor, it struck her that “this was only dish, & she makes it lớn order. , we would call that an artisanal product; it would be seven, eight dollars.” But because this street snack costs less than a buck, it's all too easy to assume it's something anyone can quickly & easily reproduce on a whim. “There’s this notion that if something is cheap, it should be replicable and easy to master at home,” Nguyen says. “I cannot tell you how angry that makes me. There is a craft to this food, & you don’t understand the craft until you make it yourself, và have to undo that wad of tapioca stuck lớn your molars.”


Solving the Rice-Paper Puzzle

Across the country in Brooklyn, Dennis Ngo, the executive chef of Di An Di, found a solution khổng lồ the tapioca-rice debacles in Nguyen’s kitchen: gluing two pieces of rice paper together with water, per a suggestion from then-chef de cuisine Jerald Head. “I wasn’t born in Vietnam, so I didn’t have context for this dish," says Ngo. "I didn’t have a reference point because I hadn’t eaten it yet.” The inspiration lớn experiment on bánh tráng nướng came from YouTube, which Ngo would watch regularly khổng lồ “keep up with the street food of Vietnam, which evolves so quickly.”


The first issue was lớn mitigate the inconsistencies across rice paper varieties. Wetting the two rounds with water và letting them cook together over a gas grill fuses them together. "Its thickness could then tư vấn the weight of the toppings,” says Ngo. This method also manages to address the plasticky tapioca issue as well: the water helps khổng lồ hydrate & puff the rounds for a light & crackly texture, not a tooth-cracking one. Ngo notes that heat management is particularly important for ensuring bánh tráng nướng success. “The grill needs to be hot enough to evaporate the water inside the rice paper, but at a rate it won’t burn the rice paper.”


To date, Ngo’s different versions of bánh tráng nướng have become one of the restaurant’s most popular offerings. Khổng lồ many of the chefs there, it was also emblematic of the mission of Di An Di itself: to nói qua a perspective of Vietnamese food that multiple generations of Vietnamese-Americans could be inspired by. “This is not something we had exposure to day-to-day, growing up ,” Ngo says. “So for us it was about being a good steward of the dish, providing our input for the dish, & sharing it with an audience that wasn’t aware of what .” He is clear that this version is different from those in Vietnam. One notable difference is that “in Vietnam, you may see it rolled up, or folded like a taco”—flexibility that's possible thanks to rice paper wrappers that are actually made with rice. Ngo's workaround, on the other hand, produces a crunchy, cracker-like base that shatters if you try lớn bend it.


Still, Ngo draws from the original bánh tráng nướng sold from Vietnamese street carts. “Since in Vietnam this is catered to kids with toppings lượt thích processed cheese or canned corn, we also use those ingredients when we are making them for festivals, or for outdoor events.” For Di An Di’s mainstay version, he uses pork lardons & clams as an ode lớn “the central region of Vietnam, where my family is from, which is more reliant on seafood.” and when it comes to lớn staff meal, he encourages everyone khổng lồ be creative: “It’s a crispy shell that is rice paper–based. Once you understand the technique, it’s not helpful to lớn be rigid. You know you need some fat, it should be portable, and it should be fun to eat.”


With Ngo's encouragement to get creative & using his recipe as a starting point, I worked on my own version here. I start with his method of wetting & then sandwiching two rice paper sheets together, then cooking them either directly over an mở cửa flame or in a nonstick skillet. I won't lie, this part isn't immediately easy: The rice paper, once wet, wants khổng lồ roll up on itself, so you need lớn keep it pressed down flat with the help of metal cooking tools (hands are out of the question as you'll burn yourself). It will likely take a few tries before you get the hang of it.


Once the rice paper has crisped all over, I rub it with a scallion oil that I modeled on one from Ngo's recipe. After that, beaten egg is drizzled on & cooked until it just starts to lớn set (beware, it & the oil have a tendency lớn run, so if you're cooking over an mở cửa flame, you may want to line your stovetop with aluminum foil for easier cleanup).


A Savory, Fragrant Topping

After that comes a generous topping of pork belly glazed in a sauce of fish sauce, sugar, & aromatics based on the flavors of this recipe for thit heo nuong xa, or grilled lemongrass pork. A final drizzle of chile oil (mine uses fresh bird"s eye chiles, Ngo"s calls for pickled), some pork (or shrimp or fish) floss, and fresh cilantro finishes it off.


Is it exactly like what you'd find sold from street carts in Vietnam? No, but Nguyen offers a helpful perspective on that. “When people make my recipe & say ‘it doesn’t taste lượt thích the Vietnamese bakery down the street’—well, if you lượt thích it, then you should pay for it. They use conditioned flour, và that you can’t just replicate at home.” Instead of trying lớn create perfect copies of every dish, she holds onto her memories of those artisans và their craft. “Even if I can’t replicate to my satisfaction, I can tell you the story that takes me right back lớn that moment.” As Nguyen puts it so beautifully, “Sometimes, it’s okay to step back from the table still a little hungry.”


Recipe Facts


Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 100 mins
Active: 90 mins
Total: 110 mins
Serves: 6to 8 servings

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Ingredients

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For the Scallion Oil:

1 một nửa cups (275ml) neutral oil, such as peanut, vegetable, or canola

7 ounces (200g) scallions (about 2 or 3 bunches), roughly chopped

For the Sweet Chile Sauce:

3/4 cup (200ml) distilled white vinegar

1 cup (200g) sugar

8 medium cloves garlic (1 1/4 ounces; 35g), thinly sliced

15 bird's eye chiles (1 ounce; 30g), stemmed & thinly sliced

2 tablespoons (30ml) fish sauce

For the Lemongrass Pork Belly:

3 tablespoons (45ml) peanut or other neutral vegetable oil

1/2 medium red onion (3 một nửa ounces; 100g), thinly sliced

3 stalks lemongrass, bottom 4 lớn 5 inches only & outer leaves discarded (2 ounces; 55g), cut into 2-inch lengths

7 medium cloves garlic (1 ounce; 30g), smashed

One 1 1/2-inch knob peeled fresh ginger (1/2 ounce; 15g), thinly sliced

2 bird’s eye chiles, stemmed and halved lengthwise

1 1/4 pounds (565g) skinless pork belly, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Kosher salt

3 tablespoons (45ml) fish sauce

1 teaspoon (4g) sugar

Freshly ground đen pepper

To Cook and Assemble:

10-inch (25cm) rice paper wrappers, as needed

Scallion Oil, for topping

2 large eggs, beaten

Lemongrass Pork Belly, for topping

Sweet Chile Sauce, for topping

Vietnamese coriander (rau răm) or cilantro leaves và tender stems, finely chopped, for topping