Wraps Around the World

What’s not to love about wraps? With street foods and ethnic cuisine on the rise, it’s no surprise that wraps of all types are trending! Here, Chef Howard Cantor provides his take on the top wraps from around the world.

Wraps: its more than just a tortilla. Burritos, roti, and gyros are all things I think of when I think of wraps, but what about all the other types of wraps from countries around the world?  Let’s take a trip and explore wraps around the world…

When I think of some of my favorite global cuisines, all of them have some kind of handheld wrap that is easy to carry and packed with flavor.  Indian, Israeli, Japanese and Korean are just a few of the types of cuisines that I love to cook at home and at work while also enjoying a meal out.  In Indian cuisine, kathi rolls are sold everywhere in India; they are filled with skewered and roasted meats and a cracked and fried egg, a chutney (usually coriander), onions and chiles.  Vegetarian versions often substitute meats with chana masala (spicy aromatic chickpeas) or masala potatoes.  With tons of flavors, very colorful and great textures, it doesn’t get much better than this!

If you want a Japanese version of a wrap, look no further than an onigirazu or a nori wrap/sandwich.  This square folded wrap is filled with steamed white rice, smoked salmon or tuna, avocado and cucumber. Think a Philly roll, but in wrap form. Of course, you can use whatever ingredients you want and get as wild and crazy as you can!  Maybe throw in a wasabi mayo or dynamite sauce for some heat, crispy fried shrimp for some texture, or even tempura veggies to make a vegan option.

From Japan, we can move over to Korea where lettuce wraps or ssam are served.  Raw soft lettuces or lightly blanched greens are wrapped around crispy sweet and spicy pork belly or grilled shellfish with kimchi served as a light but full-flavored lunch.  You can also find steam ground chicken with mint, chilis, fish sauce and lime served family style as a healthy appetizer or grilled fish with sweet and spicy condiments like gochujang, sesame seeds, fermented soy sauces, black vinegars, pickled vegetables and sriracha as a way to pack a lot of punch into a meal.

Vietnamese spring rolls are one you may not think of as a wrap in the traditional sense, but when you break down what a wrap is this is the full definition.  Fresh rolls, as my wife likes to call them, are softened rice paper wrappers filled with raw crispy shredded vegetables, noodles, fresh bright herbs, lean meats/proteins like shrimp or tofu.  They are served with all manners of sauces; I like mine with peanut sauce or a spicy duck sauce but hoisin, soy sauce, or a nam pla are also common.  They are served raw, are a great way to enjoy a snack, and just taste great.

The burrito is probably the most beloved type of wrap anywhere and everywhere.  This rolled Mexican tortilla is served at all mealtimes, filled with anything and everything from breakfast to desserts and can be served hot, cold and room temp.  Spicy grilled meats, super savory and rich stewed proteins, cool creamy sauces, bright salsas, crispy slaws… the options and combinations are only limited by your imagination.  Personally, I’m a fan of a burrito that’s filled with creamy refried black beans, vinegar-based cabbage slaw that’s both salty and slightly spicy.  Layer that with guisado style chicken that’s been stewed with potatoes, ancho chiles, tomatoes and Tex-Mex spices until it falls off the bone.  Wrap it up, toss it on a Comal and toast the tortilla until crispy, pure heaven.

One of my favorite wraps and one I used to eat all the time when I lived in the Caribbean is the roti.  Rotis are spicy and hearty wraps served for lunch as a way to get a quick meal that will carry you over to your late afternoon snack before a late-night dinner.  They are filled with chopped curried vegetables like potatoes, peas, onions, and peppers.  The curry consists of garlic, lots of fresh ginger, coconut milk, toasted cumin, turmeric and hot chiles.  The roti can also be filled with chicken stewed in the curry, potatoes, coal fired fish, or grilled shrimp.  The wrap itself, or roti, is soft and warm, reminiscent of a paratha served in Indian cuisine.  When living in the Indies, this was a favorite and whenever there was a truck, a stand, or a guy on a bike riding around selling them, I was sure to stop and grab one no matter what time of day.

No matter where you are there is a style of wrap that has been adapted and adopted to fit the cultures and cuisines of the host country. Wraps are all about experimenting with different flavor combinations and creating something that’s as delicious as it is portable.

Get inspired by global! Chef Howard and our R&D team can translate global dishes, including wraps from around the world, into craveable flavors and mouthwatering meals. Contact us today to get started!

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