Aromatic fish-stuffed grape leaves with bacon cubes, rice, and herbs - this is one of my favorite ways of filling vine leaves.
After the Turkish sarma or vegetarian dolma recipe, now is the time for fish-stuffed vine leaves. Something similar in looks and working steps but so different in flavor. You will be amazed by the flavors here, really!
I must admit I was a bit apprehensive about making grape leaves filled with fish. My thought was that making vine leaf rolls takes its time, and if fish is just weird in it, 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 fish and bacon rolls are some of the best-stuffed leaves I have ever made! I had only made a small portion, and trust me, my husband and I polished everything off in one go!
- 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 leaves than you would think you need; some leaves will break, and some will be too small for filling. In such a case, use two leaves to form one roll. Just place the two leaves over each other in order to form a larger “leaf” or to cover any holes.
- I always use short-grain rice when making fillings for vine leaves, cabbage, or sauerkraut; I feel it makes the rolls softer and 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.
- Don't leave out the bacon; it gives the whole dish an extra, hearty flavor you would not want to miss.
How to serve?
Serve the fish stuffed vine leaves with Greek yogurt and potatoes or white bread.
More stuffed rolls
Fish Stuffed Vine Leaves
- 30 g/ 1 oz/ ⅛ cup short-grain rice
- 30-35 vine leaves from a jar Note 1
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion
- 250 g/ 8.8 oz white fish fillet pangasius for instance (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/ 8.5 fl.oz/ 1 cup vegetable broth or chicken stock
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 black peppercorns
- a good sprinkle of dried dill seeds optional
- fine sea salt and ground pepper
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Carefully, unroll the vine leaves if they are rolled into a small bundle. Place in the water and simmer gently for about 3 or 4 minutes. Drain well and leave until cool enough to handle.
- Place the rice into a cup and cover it with boiling water from the kettle. Leave to soak while you prepare the rest.
- Chop the onion very finely. Heat the olive oil in a small pan and cook the onion until softer, about 3-5 minutes. Leave to cool slightly in a larger bowl.
- Chop the fish and the bacon very very finely or process them shortly in the food processor.
- Add to the bowl together with the 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 dish.
- Heat the broth or stock. 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, peppercorns, and 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 and crusty white bread or boiled potatoes.
- 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 a 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.