Food Wrappers

Food Wrappers
aluminum foil, tin foil
aluminum foil
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.
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bamboo leaves
bamboo leaves
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.
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banana 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.
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corn husks, hoja de maíz
corn husks
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.
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dumpling wrappers, dumpling skins, shao mai skins, shiu mai wrappers
dumpling wrappers
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.
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egg roll wrapers, egg roll skins, eggroll skins, eggroll wrappers
egg roll wrapers
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.
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empanada wrappers
empanada wrappers
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.
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fig leaf
fig leaf
These are great for wrapping delicately flavored foods before grilling them.
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grape leaves, grape vine leaves, vine leaves
grape leaves
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.
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gyoza wrappers, gyoza skins
gyoza wrappers
The Japanese use these round wrappers to make pork-stuffed dumplings similar to Chinese potstickers. Western cooks sometimes use them to make ravioli.
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kreplach wrappers
kreplach wrappers
Jewish cooks use these to make kreplach, a kind of Jewish ravioli.
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lotus leaves
lotus leaves
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.
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lumpia wrapper
lumpia wrapper
These thin wrappers are used to make lumpias, a Filipino type of egg roll.
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papaya leaves
papaya leaves
Wrapping meats in these leaves helps tenderize them.
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parchment paper, baking pan liner paper, baking paper, baking parchment
parchment paper
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.
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plastic wrap
plastic wrap
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.
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potsticker wrappers, potsticker skins
potsticker wrappers
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.
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rice paper, banh trang wrappers, spring roll wrappers, Vietnamese rice paper
rice paper
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.
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sausage casings
sausage casings
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.
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suey gow wrappers
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.
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ti leaves
ti leaves
South Pacific islanders use these to wrap food and to line the imu pits in which they roast pigs.
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wax paper, greaseproof paper, waxed paper
wax paper
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.
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wonton wrappers, wonton skins
wonton wrappers
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.
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