I’ve been gluten-free for a while, now, out of necessity. I recently realized that the reason I’m still having tummy troubles is because I also have dairy issues. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
This made me incredibly sad, because I had to give up one of my favorite foods EVER: cheese. I mean, you know, have you tasted vegan cheese? It is not cheese. It’s… not-cheese. (To be polite.)
And giving up gluten was super hard. I cried for about a year, and it took me another two years after that to figure out how to bake gluten-free. (In case you’re wondering, the way to do gluten-free baking is to forget everything you know about baking and start over from scratch. Seriously. Start with store-bought mixes, and go from there.) But now, to give up cheese too? I cried again. And then I started taste-testing vegan cheeses.
And I found Follow Your Heart. It’s not “healthy.” Don’t think it’s healthy, just because it’s vegan. It is a cheese substitute, and cheese isn’t really all that healthy either. Even moo-cow cheese is mostly oil. But for vegan cheese, it’s the best I’ve tasted so far. Like, I’ve eaten it straight out of the package. And it works great in one of my favorite quick-meals, the melt.
Backing up, the reason I tried making a spring roll melt is because there is a little food stand near my day-job that sells Chinese hot dogs. A Chinese hot dog, for those who are not in the know, is a hot dog wrapped in an egg roll wrapper and deep fried. But, of course, this stand puts their own spin on it, so in addition to the hot dog, they also put in some American cheese and some mustard. Then they wrap all that up in an egg roll wrapper and deep fry it. Let me tell you, it is HEAVEN. And I can’t eat them anymore. So I made my own at home the other day, using the ingredients I had in the kitchen (spring roll wrappers, mustard, vegan cheese, and chicken fennel sausage, because I was out of hot dogs). Pretty good. I need to try again with actual hot dogs, though. Anyway, the Chinese hot dogs were enough of a success that I wanted to see what else I could do.
Today, instead of making a typical melt-sandwich, I decided to try making a tuna melt “spring roll”. Rice paper is naturally gluten-free (usually–always check the labels!) and tends to be much cheaper and easier to find than gluten-free egg roll wrappers. So, I used that.
I basically followed the same procedure as for the Chinese hot dogs. Except for making the tuna salad first. I mean, I didn’t make the chicken sausages first. That’s too much work, and I’ve never been into making sausages. Not since my Play-Doh days. Ahem.
So. Here’s what I did. First I made tuna salad the way I like it. You should make it the way you like it, because, you know, it’s for you, and I probably won’t be eating it. If you WERE making it for me, you should definitely make it the way I like it, otherwise, why are you trying to feed me foods I don’t like? Ahem.
Make the tuna salad. Then get your rice paper. Mine are 9″ rounds, because that’s the only size or shape my grocery store offers. I guess I could buy smaller ones from Amazon, but my grocery store is easier to access.
So with rice paper, you need to prep it a bit first. Basically, submerge the paper in water for 5 seconds, then remove and shake off (or wipe away with fingertips) excess water. Then set it on your prep station. You might want to let it sit another 10 seconds or so before you start bending it, so that it has time to soften, but usually by the time I’m done arranging the filling, it’s soft enough.
Next take a slice of cheese, or in my case, “cheese,” and cut it half. You’re going to be filling your “spring roll” very much like a burrito, so at its widest point, you still want extra paper on either end in order to be able to fold it up and contain your filling. If you don’t know how to wrap a burrito (or spring roll), this video is short, has all the necessary information, and the guy has a great accent. (Bonus!) Just skip the parts with the frying pan, because that is for actual burritos, which I did not make. So anyway, place your cheese as the base for your filling, leaving room around the edge for wrapping.
Next, your filling. That would be your tuna salad. Although, I must say, I found my “spring rolls” to be more than a little floppy. It’s quite possible you will want to add some some structure? Maybe some celery sticks or something? I haven’t tried this. It’s on the list of Things To Try. If you try it, let me know whether it works. Anyway, add a proper burrito/spring roll amount. If you put too little, you’ll end up with a tube or a straw and Way Too Much Wrapper. If you put too much, you won’t be able to seal your spring roll shut. Don’t do that. Just put the right amount. (And, of course, the right amount is knowledge that comes from experience. You do this a couple of times, and you’ll be able to eyeball what the right amount is, according to the size and shape wrapper you have.)
Now for the fun part. I liberally sprayed oil on my wraps (I made two, which used up all the tuna), and popped them in my air fryer at 400F for 4 minutes. Then I went in, unstuck them, because even with the oil, wet rice paper sticks to EVERYTHING. And then I air fried them for another 2 minutes. I should have left them in for another 4.
When I pulled them out, the rice paper was still a little wet and not as crispy as I would have liked. But the “cheese” melted, there were some crispy bits, and it tasted like a tuna melt.
All in all, it was a good experiment, but most likely, next time I’ll just use bread for my tuna melt. Still, the vegan cheeze was tasty, and it had all the right flavors.
But maybe you should stick to making Chinese hot dogs. They have way better structure.
PS I found the vegan cheese all by myself. They didn’t pay me for anything I said here, although considering how much I love them now, maybe they should. Just sayin’.