[Sca-cooks] OOP - Funky smell to Vietnamese Spring Roll Wrappers?

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Mon Aug 24 07:10:19 PDT 2009

Hullo, the list!

I was wondering, maybe someone here has more experience with this  
product than I do...

I picked up, for use in the Dog Days of summer, some rice-paper-type  
spring roll wrappers, which are essentially a dry, translucent sheet  
of pasta.

To use them, you generally moisten them and wrap them briefly in a  
damp towel until they're reconstituted and pliable, after which they  
can be wrapped around any of a variety of fillings cooked or raw, and  
either eaten immediately or fried until crispy.

In the US, when they're filled with something that doesn't need to be  
cooked further (say, cooked bean sprouts, shredded cucumber, cooked  
cellophane noodles, shredded scallion and cooked meat or shrimp, or  
various salad greens), the product  is commonly referred to as a  
Summer Roll.

I've used these before, for use both as fried spring roll wrappers and  
for cold summer rolls, and I picked some up last week, which we filled  
with shredded lettuce, stir-fried bean sprouts with caramelized garlic  
and ginger shreds, scallion, and shredded barbecued pork. They were  
quite good, and the wrappers a wonderful convenience for turning what  
were essentially salad ingredients into finger food, without having to  
resort to deep frying or pan frying on a day above ninety in both  
degrees Fahrenheit and relative humidity.

The wrappers, however, had a weird smell to them upon being moistened,  
sort of bitter, bile-like, reminiscent of... well, baby-puke. It  
dissipated quickly and I suspect many people would not have noticed  
(I've got a pretty sensitive nose and palate), and once they were  
exposed to the air for a few minutes there was no problem eating them,  
and certainly no ill effects.

I was just wondering if anyone else here has had this experience, and  
possibly some explanation. These wrappers have no fat to go rancid,  
and as far as I can tell, they normally contain rice flour and water  
-- sometimes a little tapioca starch is included, I gather. My package  
claims the ingredients are wheat flour, water and salt (I strongly  
suspect an error in the case of wheat flour -- maybe an impurity in  
the salt?).

How about it, folks? Ever see this before? Is it predictable/avoidable  
or just one of those little things you deal with and get on with life?  
Between this and the infamous Nickelodeon-green Burmese curry paste my  
SE Asian cook's rep is taking some hits (although both my dry curry of  
prawns and balachaung -- a rice topping and general garnish of fried  
onions, garlic, dried shrimp, chiles and vinegar -- have been  
pronounced not like mother used to make, but like grandma used to make).

Rumor has it my name is being dragged through the mud on Facebook by  
my own flesh and blood as a purveyor of stinky spring rolls... we  
can't have that!


"Most men worry about their own bellies, and other people's souls,  
when we all ought to worry about our own souls, and other people's  
			-- Rabbi Israel Salanter

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