Rice Paper Chips And Ahi Tuna Make For The Ultimate Summer Appetizer

ahi tuna and fried rice chip appetizer
ahi tuna and fried rice chip appetizer - The Image Party/Shutterstock

Made with a blend of rice starch and tapioca flour, rice paper is an ancient ingredient that is now popular outside of Asia. We're used to dunking it in water to form the delightfully chewy and malleable wrapper for homemade spring rolls. However, rice paper chips offer another delicious texture and an avenue for an ahi tuna appetizer.

When fried, rice paper becomes shatteringly crispy and as light as a cloud. Strips or squares of rice paper will bubble up into a firm base for a delicate slice of fresh ahi tuna. The rice and tapioca starch will take on a mildly nutty flavor as they cook in hot oil, lending a sophisticated complement to umami-rich tuna. They'll also provide a crunchy textural contrast to a tender slice of tuna. Since both ahi tuna and rice paper chips are ultra-light, melt-in-your-mouth ingredients to enjoy cool or room temperature, they're the perfect appetizer for a summer dinner party.

Rice paper chips take only 5 seconds to crisp up from the moment they touch hot oil. You can even puff rice paper up in the microwave without oil by placing a sheet on a microwave-safe plate and cooking on high for 30 seconds. To shape the chips, use scissors to cut the sheets into squares or strips before nuking or frying them. Frying them in oil will yield the tastiest and quickest results. Fry the chips in a large saucepan with a half-inch of neutral oil over a medium-high flame.

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plate of rice paper chips
plate of rice paper chips - Rabizo Anatolii/Shutterstock

Because ahi tuna and rice paper are popular Asian ingredients, you can draw from pan-Asian cuisine for garnish and sauce pairings to complete the appetizer. While you can buy ahi tuna at most grocery store fish counters, those same grocery stores likely offer frozen tuna steaks and frozen ahi tuna poke for more budget-friendly options.

The frozen ahi tuna poke even comes with a tasty marinade to stir into the pre-sliced tuna chunks, making them especially convenient for your appetizers. If you're not a fan of sashimi, you can sear frozen tuna steaks with a homemade marinade of soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, and cayenne pepper, then cut them into thin slices to place atop each rice chip. You can season your rice chips fresh out of the fryer with smoky paprika, garlic salt, and a touch of cayenne. Furikake is the Japaense seasoning that would make the perfect rice paper chip dusting to bolster the umami-richness of the ahi tuna. For garnishes, you can layer on popular sushi and spring roll ingredients like diced scallions, pickled ginger, avocado slices, radishes, fresh jalapeno, sesame seeds, and cucumbers. A citrus-soy dipping sauce with soy, orange and lime juice, and a dash of honey would bring a burst of sweet, tangy, and salty flavors. And if you want to spice things up, you can make wasabi aioli or sriracha aioli.

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