This vegan rice noodle roll recipe is a quick and easy appetizer, side dish, or even breakfast centerpiece. It’s a fragrant and savory introduction to rice noodle rolls if you’ve seen them at the Asian grocery store and have no idea how to prepare them. Skip the chili sauce if you prefer no spice.
This dish is one of my favorite comfort foods because it takes 5 minutes or less to prepare. I look forward to it after a frustrating day dealing with software architects or meddling bugs that force me to do file a bunch of bug reports and enhancement requests.
My favorite time to eat this dish is during Saturday breakfast. That’s when I have enough time to slowly unravel each roll. It allows me to savor the dish slowly, as Mme. Guiliano would approve of.
I like to eat each unraveled roll as if it were one wide noodle, coated in soy sauce and toasted sesame oil. Let’s jump to learn how you can bring this mouthful of bliss to your dining table.
This is one of my favorite recipes in my series for quick meals. Check out the other 5-minute recipes.
What are rice noodle rolls?
Have you tried dim sum at a Cantonese restaurant?
You may have come across a dish called cheong fun, a.k.a. “rice noodle rolls“. It’s like a crêpe except it’s made from rice flour and tapioca flour, making it gluten-free. It’s typically filled with savory fillings, such as Chinese BBQ pork, shrimp, ground beef, or Chinese donut sticks (youtiao).
Because rice noodle rolls are time consuming to make at home, it’s fantastic news that you can buy them at most Asian grocery stores in the U.S. They come in different shapes, such as rolls where the rice noodle is rolled into a cylinder and flat rectangular sheets designed for filling like cheong fun.
You can buy plain rice noodle rolls or ones rolled with green onion and dried shrimp for extra flavor (note: the latter isn’t vegan). These rice noodle rolls can be chopped up and steamed, stir fried, or reheated in the microwave.
If you’ve never had rice noodle rolls before, this is one of the simplest ways to enjoy them at home.
How to substitute ingredients
I understand that not everybody will have access to the ingredients I’ve described in the recipe. As with all my recipes, there’s a lot of flexibility to substitute the ingredients to make this recipe work for you kitchen and palate.
Substitute rice noodle rolls
While the backbone of this recipe is rice noodle rolls, you can still make this recipe if you can’t find them at your local Asian grocery store. Substitute rice noodle rolls with thin, wide fresh rice noodles, like what you’d eat in a Pad See Ew dish from a Thai restaurant.
NOTE: If you’re struggling to find rice noodle rolls or fresh rice noodles, you can try to make rice noodle rolls at home. These recipes from Healthy Nibbles and What to Cook Today seem well-tested and don’t require special steaming equipment.
Substitute soy sauce
The dark soy sauce adds salt, umami, and a touch of sweetness. If you don’t have dark soy sauce, you can use light soy sauce and a pinch of brown sugar or 1/4 of molasses to give it the sweet caramelized flavor.
If you don’t want soy sauce, you can replace it with any of these soy sauce alternatives.
Substitute chili sauce
If you don’t like spicy food, you can skip the chili sauce. Or replace it with the peanut butter dipping sauce from the spring rolls recipe. Thin out the sauce with extra water or vegetable stock so it spreads easily over the rice rolls. Satay sauce or thinned-out tahini would also work well over these rice noodle rolls.
How to store noodle rice rolls
There’s a school of thought that doesn’t believe in refrigerating fresh rice noodles. My mum falls into this philosophy and taught me to leave rice noodles at room temperature on the countertop because they become stiff and break easily when they’re refrigerated.
She’s not wrong (ugh, I talk like a scientist now with the double negatives), especially with silky wide fresh rice noodles.
But there’s also the American food safety camp who judges you for leaving a bowl of coleslaw out of the fridge for an hour.
Since I’m married to an American, I store the rice noodles rolls in the fridge once I’m home from the grocery store, especially if the store stocked them in the fridge. It takes 30 more seconds to reheat but it’s worth it.
TIP: Fresh rice noodles don’t last long (see the tips below). Eat the rice noodles within 3 days of purchase.
Tips for success
- Where to find the noodle rolls in the store: Half the Asian grocery stores that I visit sell the rice noodle rolls in the refrigerated section of the produce aisle next to tofu and refrigerated fresh noodles, like yakisoba noodles. The other half of Asian grocery stores sell the rice noodles on non-refrigerated shelves next to the produce aisle next to foods like pickles and cabbage.
- Check the rice noodle rolls when you buy them: Most noodle rolls don’t contain preservatives. If you find a stack of non-refrigerated noodle rolls at the Asian grocery store, make sure there is no spots of mold on them. If you’re buying the variety with green onions, the green mold spots can blend in if you’re not paying attention. Check the expiration date on the package if it has one.
- Be careful when pulling the rolls apart: Rice noodle break easily because they’re thin. Be gentle when you’re pulling them apart. I like to unwind the outside rolls first.
5-Minute Rice Noodle Rolls with Green Onion
- Chopping Board
- Gather the ingredients.
- Cut the rice noodle rolls into about half-inch/1.5 cm pieces.Slice the green onions. You can mince them further if you want the green onions to be smaller.Put the sliced rice noodle rolls on a plate. Heat it in the microwave for 30-60 seconds.
- Put the sliced green onions, dark soy sauce, sesame oil, and chili sauce on top of the rice noodle rolls.
- Mix thoroughly to combine.
- Garnish with extra toppings if you like, such as sesame seeds, pork floss, or crushed peanuts. Enjoy your rice noodle rolls green onion!
Can you freeze it?
No. You need to eat the rice noodles fresh. They don’t freeze well.