We were inspired by a Binnur’s Turkish Cookbook to make Asma Yapraginda Sardalya. We found a jar of grape leaves at a local Persian supermarket and unfortunately couldn’t find fresh sardines so we opted for a fresh larger (mackerel sized) fish at the Korean supermarket. I’ve always been curious as to how to use grape leaf and have always loved Greek/Turkish/Persian dishes with grapeleaf so I was curious to see how it would do with seafood.
Preparation Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Total Time: 40 min
Servings: 4 fish (serves 1-2)
Meal type: Main
- 4 sardines (or Whiting fish, in our case), $2
- 8-10 pieces grape leaves, $5 for a jar 16oz jar; you’ll use about a tenth of the jar)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- juice of 1 lemon, $0.33
- to taste, salt
- to taste, pepper
Prepare the fish
1. Slice fish down the belly, reach in and discard guts from fish. If it has few scales on it, just run the knife over the skin to remove.
2. Pull out the backbone then wash with cold water and drain.
3. Rub the fish with olive oil and lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper.
The easy way to do this is the combine the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl first, then use a spoon or brush to spread it onto the fish.
4. Put the marinating fish in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes in a shallow plate.
Wrapping the fish
5. Rinse the grape leaves and cut off the stems
6. Lay down enough grape leaves to cover the length of the fish, matte side up (shiny side down). The difference between the matte and shiny side is minute, but the matte side is the side that the veins of the leaf are slightly raised.
7. Place the fish on the grape leaves, then roll it up nice and tight.
It’s okay if the ends of the leaves don’t entirely stick to the wrapped package, but if there is one that is sticking up too much for your liking, you can take some of the stems you cut off and poke them through to hold the leaves down.
8. Brush some olive oil all over the grape leaf.
9. Preheat the grill or oven to medium-high, or about 375F.
10. Place the fish on the rack and grill for about 5 minutes each side.
Because we used a slightly bigger fish, ours took about 8 minutes per side. Juices will flow from the wrapped fish; when they start to dry and the grape leaf starts to dry, it is probably done.
Served the Turkish way, the fish should be presented with lemon wedges, radishes, and an arugula or green salad. We served the fish with a fresh salad tossed in a light oil-based vinaigrette dressing, and some delicious bread, also from the Persian grocery store. It made a great light meal that felt fresh and healthy. As we ate, we wondered what else we could possibly wrap in grape leaf that could be as yummy as this dish. We think that other more dense white fish like halibut or cod (without the bones) might go well with grapeleaf. What do you wrap in grape leaf?