This is a tutorial in how to color and use rice paper spring roll wrappers instead of nori for making various sushi. I am not a sushi master, I’m not even really a sushi eater, because I hate the taste of nori (and I have tried several times), so I will leave the rolling and forming instructions up to someone else.
Picking out your Spring Roll Wrappers
I am sure there are differences between the various brands of spring roll wrappers, and rice paper. I don’t know what they are. But from personal experience, I can tell you that you need to watch out for “thin” spring roll wrappers. I am not sure what purpose these have other than to frustrate the heck out me when I try to use them. If you really need to use them because that is all you can find, you can double them up and be very careful when you roll to make sure all the air bubbles are smoothed out. Also, I have not tried them myself, but there are square spring roll wrappers which might be easier to make sushi out of.
Here is my workstation, I have my rice paper in a zip bag (humidity is BAD for rice paper, and I live in Houston, humidity capital of the US), my gel food colors (what I have in my pantry, if you have the liquid kind, feel free to use it), and my ceramic pie plate filled with hot water. I use this pie plate because the rice paper circles fit perfectly in it. As you can see, I have added quite a lot of food coloring. A huge squeeze of green and a little glop of pink (gel doesn’t do drops). I was trying for a brownish green, kind of like nori. I failed miserably, but got a fairly pretty taupe. The rice paper will always color very lightly, although I have seen a VERY bright pink. I can’t think of how much pink food coloring she must have used.
So, after you have your hot water ready, simply lay a piece of rice paper in the water and wait for it to soften (less than a minute, closer to 15 seconds if the water is nice and hot). It will color at the same time as it softens. I tend to gently rub the surface of the wrappers while it is soaking, it seems to help the softening process go faster.
Once you are ready to use it, you might have noticed that there is a smooth side and a rough side. I have not really noticed that it matters a lot which side is out. There may be minute differences that an expert in these matters would notice, but they both hold, and the sushi tastes the same no matter which side is out.
A word of warning, though, spring roll wrappers are very very sticky to work with after they have dried a smidge. They are slippery at first when you get them out of the water, but by the time you get the rice spread and fillings and everything ready to roll, the rice paper wil have dried enough to be very sticky. This coupled with the stickiness of the rice makes rolling tricky. I would plastic wrap your rolling mat (as you would for a California roll). Good luck!