Homemade dolmas are always a treat. However, unless you’re cooking for a crowd, it’s challenging to come up with other uses for all the leftover leaves in the jar.
This easy grilled fish entrée makes good use of them. Not only do the charred leaves intensify flavor, but they also keep the fish moist and intact. Get playful with the sauce; almost any herb will work.
According to preference, serve the sauce over the wrapped fish and eat it all together, or carefully open the packet and serve the sauce directly on the fish. Either way, eat the grape leaves, too—they’re delicious!
- 10-12 large grape leaves in brine
- 2 6-8 ounce filets of sturdy white fish, such as barramundi
- Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
- Approximately ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil for several uses
- 1 medium shallot, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ cup white wine or low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup chopped Roma tomatoes or 1 can diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
- 1-2 teaspoons chopped tarragon [NOTE: A little tarragon goes a long way. If you choose a subtler herb, increase the amount accordingly.]
- 1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon butter if desired
- Useful equipment: Basting or pastry brush
- Preheat the grill and brush the grating with olive oil.
- Thoroughly rinse the grape leaves and press with paper towels. Arrange several leaves, shiny side down, on a dinner plate. Overlap as needed to close gaps.
- Lightly brush the fish all over with oil. Lightly sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.
- Lay one filet atop the grape leaves and wrap them around the fish, brushing with oil to seal. Arrange the remaining leaves and wrap the other filet. Coat the fish packets with oil, covering dry patches, and refrigerate while the grill heats.
- Meanwhile, start a pan sauce.
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Cook the shallots, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute or until the garlic is golden and aromatic.
- Carefully add the wine or broth, using a spatula to scrape up tasty browned bits. Increase the heat to medium-high and allow to simmer. When about half the liquid has evaporated, stir in the tomatoes, capers and tarragon. Heat gently on low.
- Put the fish on the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes, depending on thickness. Turn carefully and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Wrapped in hot grape leaves, the filets will continue to cook for a minute or two after you take them off the grill.
- Finish the sauce with lemon. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. If you desire a thicker consistency, you may take it off the heat and slowly stir in a pat of butter.
- Top the fish packets with sauce. Serve with a salad and couscous or wild rice.