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Food Wrappers

 

aluminum foil = tin foil  Notes:  This is an excellent all-purpose wrapper, able to withstand both heat and cold.  It's the best choice if you're wrapping foods for freezer storage, since it works better than plastic wrap at preventing moisture loss.  Substitutes:  plastic wrap

bamboo leaves  Notes:    Southeast Asians use these to wrap and tie rice packets before steaming.  They're hard to find fresh, but Asian markets often carry dried leaves in plastic bags. Soak them in warm water before using to prevent them from cracking.  Substitutes:   lotus leaves

 

banana leaves  People in the tropics use these huge leaves to line cooking pits and to wrap everything from pigs to rice.  The leaves impart a subtle anise fragrance to food and protect it while it's cooking.  Frozen leaves--once thawed--work just fine.  Boil the leaves before using them to keep them from cracking.  Look for banana leaves among the frozen foods in Asian, Hispanic, or specialty markets.    

 

Substitutes: aluminum foil (as food wrapper) OR parchment paper (as food wrapper) OR corn husks (as food wrapper or to cover imus) OR hoja santa leaves (as a food wrapper, also imparts an interesting anise flavor) OR ti leaves (To line imu pits and wrap small items:  1 banana leaf = 5 ti leaves)

 

corn husk = hoja de maz   Notes:    Hispanic cooks use these, both fresh and dried, to wrap tamales before steaming them.   Before using, soak the husks in hot water for about 30 minutes to make them more pliable.   Substitutes:  banana leaves (for wrapping food) OR aluminum foil (for wrapping food) OR hoja santa leaves (imparts an interesting root beer-like flavor)

dumpling wrappers = dumpling skins = shao mai skins = shu mai skins = siu mai skins = su my wrappers = shiu mai wrappers    Notes:  These thin round wrappers are used to make the delicate dumplings that are so popular at dim sum restaurants.  They're made to be stuffed and steamed, but they're not sturdy enough to be fried.   While assembling the dumplings, keep the stack of wrappers moist by covering them with a damp towel.  You can seal the dumplings with a "glue" made with cornstarch and water.  Look for fresh or frozen wrappers in Asian markets.   Store them in the refrigerator or freezer, but let them come to room temperature before using.  Substitutes:  wonton skins (These are thicker.  Trim off square corners before using.) OR egg roll wrappers  (These are thicker.  Cut into quarters and trim off square corners before using.) OR pasta sheet

 

egg roll wrappers = egg roll skins = eggroll wrappers = eggroll skins   Notes:   The Chinese use these dough squares to make deep-fried egg rolls.   While assembling the egg rolls, keep the stack of wrappers moist by covering them with a damp towel.  You can seal the rolls with a "glue" made with cornstarch and water.   Look for fresh wrappers in Asian markets and many supermarkets.  Store them in the refrigerator or freezer, but let them come to room temperature before using.   Substitutes:  rice paper (larger and thinner; yields a crispier roll) OR phyllo (Bake the eggroll instead of frying it.) OR pasta sheet

 

empanada wrappers   Notes:    Hispanic cooks wrap these six-inch diameter rounds of dough around sweet or savory fillings, and then bake or fry them.   Look for them among the frozen foods in Hispanic markets.   Substitutes:   wonton wrappers OR pasta sheet

fig leaf  Notes:    These are great for wrapping delicately flavored foods before grilling them.

grape leaves = vine leaves = grape vine leaves   Notes:   Greeks stuff these with ground lamb and rice to make dolmades, but they're used elsewhere to make pickles and beds for food.  They're hard to find fresh in markets, but you can often find them in cans or jars.  Trim the stems and rinse off the brine before using.  To make your own:  Plunge grape leaves (that haven't been sprayed with harmful chemicals) for one minute in boiling, salted water (2 teaspoons pickling salt per quart), then drain.   Substitutes:  green cabbage (use the leaves as wrappers) OR bell pepper (Hollow out the pepper and stuff it with filling.) OR lettuce (as a bed for food) OR mustard greens OR Swiss chard

 

gyoza wrappers = gyoza skins   Pronunciation:   gee-OH-zah   Notes:    The Japanese use these round wrappers to make pork-stuffed dumplings similar to Chinese potstickers.  Western cooks sometimes use them to make ravioli.   Substitutes:   potsticker wrappers OR wonton wrappers (These are thinner than gyoza wrappers.) OR egg roll wrappers (These are larger than gyoza wrappers.) OR pasta sheet

kreplach wrappers  Notes:  Jewish cooks use these to make kreplach, a kind of Jewish ravioli.   Substitutes:   wonton wrappers OR pasta sheet

lotus leaves  Notes:  These leaves open up like butterfly wings, each about two feet high.  They're often wrapped around rice and other fillings, to which they impart an earthy aroma when the bundles are steamed.  The leaves are available either fresh or, more commonly, dried in Asian markets.  Soak them for at least an hour in warm water before using, and keep fresh leaves in a cool, dry place or else freeze them.  Substitutes:  banana leaves OR parchment paper brushed with oil (for wrapping food) 

lumpia wrapper   Pronunciation:  LOOM-pee-ah  Notes:   These thin wrappers are used to make lumpias, a Filipino type of egg roll.  Substitutes:  lettuce (another traditional lumpia wrapper) OR egg roll wrapper OR rice paper OR pasta sheet

maguey leaves  Substitutes:  banana leaves OR avocado leaves

papaya leaves  Cooking notes:  Wrapping meats in these leaves helps tenderize them.

 

parchment paper = kitchen parchment = baking pan liner paper = baking parchment = baking paper  Notes:   This is a heavy, silicone-coated paper that's used to line pans so that candies and baked goods won't stick.  It's an expensive alternative to waxed paper, but it's less sticky, so it's a good choice if you're making gooey items.  Parchment paper is also wrapped around foods to be cooked en papillote, or formed into cones for cake decorating.  Specialty cooking stores and larger supermarkets often carry rolls or sheets of it.  Paper grocery bags are sometimes recommended as a substitute for parchment paper, but it's not advisable to use them. Grocery bags will ignite at 450 degrees, and that they may have been treated with unsafe chemicals.   Substitutes: waxed paper (This is a lot cheaper, but it's more likely to stick to gooey baked goods.  Try greasing the waxed paper before using.) OR rice paper (as a baking pan liner) OR aluminum foil (Works well for cooking en papillote.  If greased, it also works well as a liner for baking pans.) OR lightly grease baking pan (This tends to encourage cookies to spread out on the baking sheet.) OR nonstick baking sheet OR plastic zip-lock bag (If you're piping icing on a cake, this works well as a substitute for a parchment cone.  Just fill the plastic bag, cut a hole in a corner, and squeeze.)

 

plastic wrap   Notes:   Plastic wrap is terrific for covering foods to be stored in the refrigerator or cooked in the microwave.  It clings especially well to glass, ceramic, and china dishes.  You can also use it to wrap foods for short-term freezer storage, though you should use aluminum foil if you're storing something in the freezer for a long time since foil is better at preventing moisture loss.   Substitutes: plastic bags OR waxed paper (This is a good choice for separating layers of cookies or candies, or for covering or wrapping foods before microwaving.  Waxed paper doesn't adhere well to food or containers and will let air in and steam out.) OR aluminum foil (Foil insulates food, making it slow to freeze or thaw.  Aluminum also reacts with salty or acidic foods, diminishing flavor or appearance.)

 

potsticker wrappers = potsticker skins   Notes:   These small, thick wrappers are stuffed with meat fillings, and then pan-fried and steamed.    While assembling the potstickers, keep the stack of wrappers moist by covering them with a damp towel.  You can seal the potstickers with a "glue" made with cornstarch and water.   Look for stacks of them wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator cases of Asian markets.  They freeze well.  Substitutes:  suey gow wrappers OR dumpling wrappers (thinner) OR wonton wrappers (thinner) OR eggroll wrappers (cut these down to size) OR pasta sheet

ravioli wrappers  Substitutes:  pasta sheet OR eggroll wrappers OR wonton wrappers OR dumpling wrappers

rice paper = spring roll wrappers = Vietnamese rice paper = banh trang wrappers  Notes:    These thin, fragile sheets are used to make spring rolls, but they also make good all-purpose wrappers, baking pan liners, and even lasagne noodles.  The sheets are brittle, so you need to moisten them with water before wrapping foods in them.  Keep them moist while you work with them by covering the stack with a damp towel.  Rice paper doesn't need to be cooked, but it's sturdy enough to be steamed or deep-fried.  Look for it in Asian markets.  It can be stored in a cool, dark place for many months.  Substitutes: phyllo dough (moisten and seal with peanut oil or melted butter) OR egg roll wrappers (These need to be cooked, and they're smaller and thicker than rice paper.  When fried, egg roll wrappers aren't as tender and crisp as spring roll wrappers.) OR yufka (moisten and seal with peanut oil or melted butter) OR puff pastry (Roll it thin before using.)

 

sausage casings    Notes:    These are traditionally made from intestines, but synthetic casings are now more common.  You can order them online, or prevail upon a friendly neighborhood butcher.  Substitutes:   cheesecloth (Use cheesecloth and string to shape sausages for poaching.  Remove cloth and string before grilling or frying the sausages.)

 

shao mai skins

shu mai skins

siu mai skins

suey gow wrappers = soi gow skins    Notes:   These are similar to potsticker wrappers, but they're intended to be used in soups.    While assembling the dumplings, keep the stack of wrappers moist by covering them with a damp towel.  Seal the dumplings with a "glue" made with cornstarch and water.    Look for stacks of these wrappers in the refrigerator cases of Asian markets.   Store them in the refrigerator or freezer, but let them come to room temperature before using.   Substitutes:  potsticker wrappers OR dumpling wrappers (thinner) OR wonton wrappers (thinner) OR eggroll wrappers (cut these down to size) OR pasta sheet

spring roll wrappers

ti leaves   Pronunciation:  TEE  Notes:   South Pacific islanders use these to wrap food and to line the imu pits in which they roast pigs.   Substitutes: corn husks (for covering imus) OR aluminum foil (for covering roasts) OR banana leaves

Vietnamese rice paper

wax paper = waxed paper = greaseproof paper  Notes:   Invented by Thomas Edison, this is paper that's coated with paraffin wax to make it resistant to moisture.  To use wax paper as a cake pan liner, place the pan on the paper, trace its outline, then cut it out and place it in the pan.   Substitutes:   parchment paper (for lining baking pans) OR aluminum foil (for lining pans or wrapping foods) OR plastic wrap (for wrapping foods) 

 

wonton wrappers = wonton skins   Notes:    Wontons are the Chinese answer to ravioli--small packets of meat encased in a thin noodle wrapper.  The wrappers are made of flour, eggs, and water, and, once filled with meat, can be easily folded and pinched into shape.    While assembling the wontons, keep the stack of wrappers moist by covering them with a damp towel.  You can seal the dumplings with a "glue" made with cornstarch and water.    The wrappers come in different thicknesses.  The thin ones work best in soups, while the thicker ones are best for frying.  Look for stacks of them wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator cases of Asian markets.   Store them in the refrigerator or freezer, but let them come to room temperature before using.    Substitutes:  eggroll skins cut into fourths OR dumpling skins (these have rounded, not square, corners) OR potsticker wrappers (thicker) OR pasta sheet

 

 


Copyright 1996-2005  Lori Alden