It took a bit of convincing to get the lady I was working with to attempt this one; well, I could see her point. This is not done here, first off. My argument was: We’ll just cook fish simply, with veggies and a few spices, but instead of keeping the fillets whole, we’ll cut them in chunks, and feed more people. Turn it into a mezze item. She said: OK for this experiment, just not as a mezze, it will be the main course. Agreed.
Leaves were pulled out of a freezer bag and blanched. (We don’t bother with brining)
Fish was seasoned and cut into chunks; leaves their tip snapped off and stuffed.
The pot was lined with lots of onions, sliced tomatoes, celery leaves, parsley sprigs and some dill from our last foraging trip in the mountains.
INGREDIENTS: 4 servings
1 lb white fish fillets
1/2 lb grape leaves
4 tomatoes, sliced
4 onions, sliced
Salt, to taste
Herbs: Sprigs of parsley, celery leaves, dill leaves finely chopped (or dried dill, 2 Tbsp), etc
Spices to season the fish: 1 Tbsp sumac, salt, 1/2 tsp white pepper, 1/2 tsp coriander.
4 Lemons (more as needed), juiced
3/4 cup olive oil
1. Blanch the leaves till tender (30 seconds in boiling water) and drain immediately. Cut off the tip; season the fish and cut into chunks; roll the leaves. Line the pot with the onions and tomatoes and herbs and stack with the stuffed grape leaves.
2. Add 2 cups of water, the juice of the lemons and the olive oil; hold the stuffed leaves tight with a smaller plate. Bring to a gentle simmer, covering the pot; let the mixture bubble up for 40 minutes very gently; uncover. Cool a bit, taste and adjust seasoning. Serve at room temperature or slightly warm with additional lemon quarters.