Aromatic vine leaf rolls filled with fish, bacon cubes, rice and herbs, this is one of my favorite ways of filling vine leaves.
After vine leaves stuffed with grains like the Vegan Cabbage Rolls Stuffed with Amaranth and Sweet Potatoes or vine leaves stuffed with meat like yesterday’s Stuffed Leaves with Ground Meat and Rice, today I have a totally different filling for you: fish – Stuffed Vine Leaves with Fish, Bacon and Rice.
I must admit I was a bit apprehensive about making rolls filled with fish, I had never heard of this combination before and although I had discovered the recipe quite a long time ago in an old issue of a Romanian recipe magazine, I was never brave enough to try it. My thought was that making vine leaf rolls takes its time and if fish is just weird in it, that I have wasted way more time than I care to waste on weird recipes.
But my curiosity when it comes to cooking got the best of me. As it always does… And I am so glad it did because, I am telling you, these Stuffed Vine Leaves with Fish, Bacon and Rice are some of the best stuffed leaves I have ever made! My husband and I loved them, the kids refused to try them, imagine that not only vine leaves but fish inside as a “bonus” – no thanks!
I had only made a small portion and, trust me, my husband and I polished everything off in one go!
Notes on the Stuffed Vine Leaves with Fish, Bacon and Rice
I have already explained about preparing the vine leaves and making the rolls in the post Vegan Cabbage Rolls Stuffed with Amaranth and Sweet Potatoes, but I will include the instructions in the recipe below as well.
The filling was enough for 26 rolls in my case. You might have a bit more or less depending on the size of your leaves and how large you make the rolls. Prepare a few more vine leaves than you would think you need, some leaves will break and some will be too small for filling. In such case, use two vine leaves to form one roll. Just place the two leaves over each other in order to form a larger “leaf”.
I always use short grain rice when making fillings for vine leaves, cabbage or sauerkraut, I feel it makes the rolls softer, more comforting than when using long grain rice. I soaked the rice in hot water for a while before adding it to the filling.
I used pangasius fish fillet, but any other sort of white fish fillet would be fine. My frozen pangasius weighed 340 g/ 12 oz when frozen, I weighed it again after it was thawed and it only weighed 250 g/ 8.8 oz. So, if using frozen fish, do consider this matter and make sure that the frozen fish pieces weigh more than you actually need for the recipe. No need to worry about it if using fresh fish, which is the better option anyway.
And don’t skimp on the bacon, it gives the whole dish an extra, hearty flavor you would not want to miss.
Serve the Stuffed Vine Leaves with Fish, Bacon and Rice with Greek yogurt, lemon and potatoes or white bread.
More fish recipes?
- 30 g/ 1 oz/ 1/8 cup short grain rice
- 30-35 vine leaves from a jar (See note 1)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion
- 250 g/ 8.8 oz white fish fillet, pangasius for instance (See note 2)
- 50 g/ 1.7 oz bacon
- 3 teaspoons dried breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped dill
- ½ teaspoons sweet paprika powder
- a few gratings of nutmeg
- 250 ml/ 1 cup vegetable broth
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 black peppercorns
- a good sprinkle of dried dill seeds
- salt and ground pepper
- Greek yogurt and lemon to serve
Give the rice to a cup and cover it with boiling water from the kettle. Leave to soak while you prepare the rest.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the vine leaves and let them simmer gently for about 3 or 4 minutes. Drain well and leave until cool enough to handle.
In the meantime make the filling.
Chop the onion very finely. Heat the olive oil in a small pan and cook the onion until soft, about 3-5 minutes. Leave to cool slightly.
Chop the fish and the bacon very very finely or process them shortly in the food processor. Add the onion, dried breadcrumbs, drained rice, herbs, sweet paprika powder, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
Place a vine leaf on the working surface. Add about 2 teaspoons of the filling (depending on the size of your leaf) in the middle-lower part of the leaf. Fold the left and right sides of the leaf over the filling, then form a roll, starting to roll at the base of the parcel. Place the roll with the seam facing down in a small ovenproof cooking pot. Repeat until you have used all the filling, arranging the rolls nicely and tightly in the pot.
Heat the vegetable broth. Whisk in the tomato paste and pour the liquid over the vine leaf rolls, they should be barely covered with liquid. Add the bay leaves, the peppercorns and the dried dill seeds to the pot. Cover well, bring to a boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 30 minutes.
In the meantime preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/ 360 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the lid from the pot and bake the vine leaf rolls for 15 minutes.
Serve with Greek yogurt, lemon and boiled potatoes or white bread.
I was able to fill 26 vine leaf rolls with this filling. Prepare some more vine leaves than actually needed, some will break and some will be too small for filling. In such case, use two vine leaves to form one roll. Just place the two leaves over each other in order to cover the broken parts or enlarge the “leaf”.My frozen pangasius weighed 340 g/ 12 oz when frozen, I weighed it again after it was thawed and it only weighed 250 g/ 8.8 oz.
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