Sardines wrapped in vine leaves

Sardines wrapped in vine leaves

Asma yaprağında sardalya

By
From
Istanbul
Serves
2-6
Photographer
Steven Joyce

Preserved vine leaves are a staple of Turkish cooking and wrapping fish in them is a great way to protect the flesh from the direct heat of a grill or barbecue. The richness of sardines is matched nicely by the salty sharpness of the leaves. I like to eat the leaves with the fish, so I rinse and then blanch them to remove much of the salt and brine, but some Turkish people prefer to use them without blanching and to then discard the leaves, allowing the salt to season the fish. In Turkish markets barrels filled with vine leaves stand in rows, each with different levels of salt for use in different dishes: the saltiest leaves have a frosty white crust all over them. In the UK, you can buy them in jars or vacuum-packed.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
12 brined vine leaves
6 fresh sardines, scaled and gutted but with heads on
1 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
Spiced potatoes, to serve
Tomato, walnut and pomegranate molasses salad, to serve

Method

  1. Rinse the vine leaves and then blanch them in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and refresh in cold water. Marinate the fish in the lemon juice, olive oil and black pepper for 5–10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, brush a griddle pan or frying pan with oil and place it over a high heat. Wrap each fish in one or two leaves, depending on their size, allowing the heads and tails to poke out. Cook each fish for about 4 minutes each side – if they are particularly fat they may need longer to cook through. Lower the heat if they are cooking too fast on the outside.
  3. The fish are ready when the flesh is just flaking off the bone. Serve straight away with spiced potatoes and a tomato salad.

Tip

  • When choosing sardines, get ones that smell fresh and preferably without any red bruising around the heads.
Tags:
Istanbul
Turkey
Turkish
Rebecca
Seal
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