A lot of traditional Vietnamese restaurants let you roll your own spring rolls or summer rolls at the table. You’re served a pile of meats or seafood, vegetables, herbs, and sauces—plus a pile of dry, brittle pieces of rice paper about six inches in diameter (pictured), and a bowl of water for soaking them. That’s what CindyJ faced recently when she went out to eat, and on Chowhound she admits she wasn’t exactly sure about soaking those rice papers. Her question: How long are you supposed to soak them?

A common mistake is oversoaking—all they need is a quick dip, Mr Taster explains. You actually don’t soak them at all, akq says, just give them enough liquid to seep in fast. And if the bowl of water isn’t big enough to moisten a whole wrapper at once, just dip an edge in and spin the wrapper around until the whole thing’s moist. “They will still feel stiff, but will continue to soften as you fill them,” says akq. “If you keep them in the water until they feel soft, they will … be too soft.”

Discuss: What, exactly, am I supposed to do with those rice papers?

Photo by Chris Rochelle / CHOW.com

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