The first time we had a rolled up sandwich was in the 1970s or 80s, at a take-out restaurant where they called the roll-ups “strollers” and used a mayonnaise, soy sauce and lemon juice spread to glue the delicious things together. They used a lavash type of bread. We came to love roll-ups, tortillas, flat-breads etc., and learned to call them “wraps.” Fast-forward to gluten free living, and yet another convenient food was off-limits. We felt like spoiled brats, whining about not having wraps. We tried the rice based wraps, but they are quite challenging to chew up.
Over the last two years, we have identified two successful wrap materials for gluten free eating. One was a vegetable wrap served at a restaurant called Cornucopia in Dublin, Republic of Ireland. Made from carrots, zucchini, apple and linseed, these wraps were like a fruit leather but orange and savory. They were delicious, but we don’t know how to make them or to obtain them in the United States. The other wrap is the Southeast Asian rice wrap (banh trang or spring roll skins), and we have figured out a nifty way to make our sandwiches in the morning using these wraps. Our favorite brand has a red rose on the package, and has rice flour and tapioca flour in the ingredients. This brand seems to stand up well under pressure!
Since we have so many restrictions on what we eat, we spend our money freely on other things besides wheat – if you can’t have that other stuff, why not have the good stuff? So we purchased a hot water boiler – it keeps water ready for tea or cooking at all times, a popular item in Japan. The one we have is made by Tiger. This device makes many cooking tasks very simple.
To make “wraps” using the Vietnamese spring roll skins (8 1/2 inches is a good size), first check the label to make sure that the rice circles are wheat-free. Some of them contain wheat.
Next, get a glass pie plate in which the circles fit – they should sit in the bottom easily. Our glass pie plate is 11 inches in diameter at the top. Make sure you have some very hot water available nearby.
Prepare some sandwich filling ingredients, and think about texture and color – use some roasted chicken, romaine lettuce in bite sized pieces (for crunch and green), some herbs or parsley, grated carrots, salt, pepper, a small amount of gluten free mayonnaise or flavoring.
Notice that the rice circles have a smooth side and a rough side. Take two circles and put them together, with the smooth side facing each other and the rough sides out. Put the two circles in the pie dish and add a little hot water – slosh it around so that the circles get wet on all sides and in between, then pour off the water. The two circles will sort of be stuck to the bottom of the dish, and they will be somewhat fragile – many recipes call for moving the wet wrap to a plate at this step, but by pouring off the water you eliminate that step and are not faced with reconstructing a circle from a moist, disintegrating rice wrap. Next, place some sandwich ingredients in a line across the bottom third of the wet circles, and if you are adding mayonnaise you should only put it on the meat and only use a small amount. Season the filling, then roll up the sandwich tightly, covering the filling – when you have rolled up half way, tuck in the edges so they cover the ends of the filling row, then continue rolling. The wrap will stick together and contain your sandwich. Transfer the sandwich to a plate, and start over to make the next sandwich.
When you take these sandwiches to work, bring along a dipping sauce, and prepare to have your co-workers ask you how to make them!
Make sure all your ingredients are gluten free!