Halibut Baked in Grape Leaves

One afternoon in 2003, while waiting in a Doctor’s office lounge, I came across an intriguing recipe  recipe that suggested wrapping a piece of fish in grape leaves before baking.

I had two enormous jars of grape leaves, packed in acidulous water that I had bought from a Mediterranean grocery store. I’d intended to make dolmas (stuffed grape leaves) but never got around to it, then forgot I had one jar and bought another one! Naturally, when I saw a recipe for baking fish inside a pouch of grape leaves I decided to try it.

It is absolutely fantastic. If you can get grape leaves – fresh or in a jar – I highly recommend this approach; it was quick, easy and absolutely delicious and the fish was moist, tender and full of flavor.

Originally posted Friday, July 8th, 2003:

Halibut Baked in Grape Leaves

You can use just about any fish, but I used halibut as the recipe recommended.

2 boneless/skinless halibut fillets
3 or 4 fresh grape leaves (or 5 or 6 canned/preserved) for each skinless fillet
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, then lightly oil a baking dish. Lay out the leaves on a cutting board, overlapping them to create an 8 inch round circle. Sprinkle with half the olive oil, the thyme, salt and fresh ground pepper. Place a fillet in the center of the leaves and wrap them around it in a clockwise fashion to close it up. Lay the package, seam side down, into the baking dish and bake for 20 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. (The grape leaves will crisp up.) Carefully transfer to a platter and peel away the leaves.

I cooked mine for twenty minutes, then turned off the oven and let it sit in there until I’d finished some pasta (about another 5 minutes).

The fillets are delicious plain but the recipe also included a fantastic vinaigrette to serve it with:

3 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients together and pour about a tablespoon or so over each fish fillet