Wrapping fish in grape leaves (or fig leaves, or banana leaves...) is a great way to grill flaky seafood without worrying that it will stick to the grill. In Ben Sargent's new cookbook, The Catch, he pairs thin, flat flounder fillets with a smoky tomato and caper compote (grilling the tomatoes while the heat is at full throttle). By using flavorful leaves to wrap the fish, Sargent subtly smokes and sweetens the flounder, while allowing the fish to gently steam.
Why I picked this recipe: The simple elegance is what drew me into this recipe (well, that and the grilled tomatoes).
What worked: The sweet and salty tomato compote was a fine sauce for the fish, and the perfume of the leaves added complexity that other more modern fish wrappers (foil or parchment) cannot.
What didn't: I wasn't able to figure out how to seal the fish inside the leaves on their own. But a few pieces of butcher's twine tied tightly around each packet solved the problem easily. I'd recommend figuring out your tying/wrapping method before heading out to the grill.
Suggested tweaks: Sargent suggests substituting fig leaves for the grape leaves if those are easier to source (they were for me). I'd guess that you could use banana leaves as well. Any flat fish fillets will work here if you can't get flounder.
Reprinted with permission from The Catch: Sea-to-Table Recipes, Stories & Secrets by Ben Sargent with Peter Kaminsky. Copyright 2013. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- 4 medium tomatoes or tomatillos
- 2 small garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon capers, drained and chopped
- 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for the grape leaves
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 (6- to 8-ounce) flounder fillets
- 8 to 12 large grape or fig leaves, stems removed
Light a grill. Grill the tomatoes over a hot fire, turning, until charred all over. Let the tomatoes cool, then core and finely chop them. Put them in a medium bowl and stir in the garlic, capers, and 1/4 cup of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Season the flounder with salt and pepper. Spread the tomato mixture over the fillets and wrap each one in 2 large leaves, enclosing the tomato mixture. Rub the leaves generously with olive oil. Grill the flounder over a medium-hot fire until the leaves are crisp and the flounder just cooked, about 3 minutes on the first side and 2 minutes on the second side. Serve right away.