Fish Roasted In Fig Leaves takes succulent fish filets, and imparts moisture and flavor, while it roasts quickly in the oven with sauce and veggies bundled inside.
Homegrown Fig Trees Inspired This Recipe
Planting a fig tree in every home I have lived in, has special meaning to me.
Read on to hear the full story I also shared with national television, where I first introduced this ‘never before’ recipe!
Since the trees are fully loaded with figs by late summer and the leaves are ginormous, I had to bundle a meal inside that represented (for me), abundance of a summer garden.
These beautiful late summer bundles are assembled with shaved veggies and citrus inside the bundle, brushed in olive oil and sprinkled with coarse sea salt.
Ultimately, roasted to perfection.
He didn’t say much else about it.
So, of course curious, I cut a leaf, chopped it up and boiled it.
The taste? A subtle but definite taste of coconut, a little oil on the tongue and the definite scent of coconut.
Once I realized I didn’t get sick from sipping the tea, and actually liked its delicate flavor, my imagination went wild with ideas.
I was certain the leaves would be great for wrapping things inside and cook on the grill, in the oven or even stack in a pot with a little water and steam on top of the stove.
Remember, I am from a Syrian heritage and we wrap all kinds of things in grape leaves, so the possibilities are endless!
Preparing Fig Leaves For Cooking The Fish
When using freshly picked grape leaves for cooking, we often drop them in boiling, salted water, just enough to blanch them.
This step didn’t need to be done with the fig leaves.
I simply washed them really well and used them just like that.
If the leaves cook too much before using them, they are too soft to hold firmly around large items, such as this gorgeous swordfish I cooked.
Where To Get Fig Leaves For Cooking
The answer to that is ‘Good Luck’!
BUT… I can almost promise you that wherever you live, there is going to be someone that has a fig tree in their yard or on their deck.
Ask around and get to know your neighbors. I will bet they have no idea the leaves are great for cooking.
See? You will also make a new friend.
Grow Your Own Fig Trees
For those who have a little patch of yard, plant one yourself.
Most fig trees don’t produce fruit for 3 years but they certainly produce big ole leaves right away.
Fig trees are easy to care for because they need little watering, just lots of sunshine to be happy.
I have always planted my fig trees near a wall, fence or side of the house facing east where the sun rises.
It has always worked for me and I am now in my 3rd house with a fig tree.
My Italian friends (that always grow fig trees), said the tree, like a little kid, likes the security of having something standing nearby… ie the wall, fence or house!
Cooking Fish In Fig Leaves
Swordfish is what I used, when I cooked in my fig leaves, simply because I thought it would be the best test.
Sure salmon is going to come out nice.
Salmon has fat and it stays moist no matter how you cook it. Swordfish?
I have rarely cooked swordfish that it didn’t come out dry.
Not anymore!! The fish was so tender and juicy.
Imagine swordfish staying juicy when baked! Next I will try tuna!
A whole, small fish can be used as well and look quite lovely presented to dinner guests.
For a whole fish, you will want to layer several leaves alongside each other, overlapping, set the fish in the center and tie twine around to hold the leaves in place.
How To Cook Fish In Fig Leaves
This couldn’t be easier. In fact, I found it easier than any other way I cook fish, and no clean up!!
Once the leaves are washed and dried, lay them on a sheet of parchment paper or work area, pretty side down.
Lightly brush the inside of the leaves with olive oil or if you prefer, melted butter.
Set the fish you will cook in the center.
Drizzle a bit more olive oil, butter or a sauce of choice; I use a Savory Fig Sauce I make and always have tucked in the freezer.
Layer on top of that, a few slices of lime or lemon, fresh herbs and any small thinly sliced veggies you plan to use.
I had just picked okra and tiny fairytale eggplant but for the finale of the PBS show, I used slices of zucchini and squash.
Sprinkle with salt and any other spices you would like.
Folding and Roasting The Fig Leaf Bundles
Folding is easier than grape leaves.
You will want to tie the bundle with a piece of cooking twine, so slide a piece, about a foot long, under the leaf, bring the fingers of the leaf over the filling and tie the string around it.
This process can be done early in the day and keep the bundles in the fridge till ready to cook.
The swordfish I used was about an inch thick and these bundles cooked in 20 minutes in a 350 preheated oven.
- Fish Filet
- Fig Leaves
- Olive oil or Butter
- Coarse salt
- Tender veggies – zucchini, yellow squash, okra or baby eggplant
- Fresh herbs
- Baking sheet pan
- Cooking twine
- Cutting board
- Sharp knife
- Measuring spoons
- Metal spatula
- Basting brush
Fish In Fig Leaves – The Great American Recipe
When I first created this amazing recipe I had no idea that one year later I would prepare it on national television!
The Great American Recipe, on PBS, is where I had the chance to showcase this dish. I made it to the finales and that is where I saved this recipe to prepare.
My Fig Finale, is what I called it. Having to kick it up a bit, I did create a fig and chili sauce to spread on the fish before bundling to roast.
Along side of the fig leaf bundle, I served another dish I created just for the show; Beet and Endive Salad with Fig Dressing. What a hit!
To wrap up this Fig Finale, I prepared an Almond and Oat Fig Tart. What a spectacular end of summer, early autumn meal!
Fish Roasted In Fig Leaves
- Baking dish
- Cooking twine
- 2 1-inch Fish steaks swordfish, salmon, tuna or others
- 2 Large Fig Leaves or 4 medium *see notes
- 1 tbsp Olive oil or butter
- 1/2 Lime or Lemon thinly sliced
- Coarse salt to taste
- 2 pieces Cooking Twine 12-inches long each
- 1 cup Veggies – thinly sliced zucchini, squash, asparagus or fairytale eggplant,
- 2 sprigs Fresh Herbs thyme, oregano or marjoram
- 1 small Chili pepper (optional) thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp Savory Fig sauce (or sauce of choice) homemade
- Wash and dry the freshly cut fig leaves. Set on a work space, pretty side down with twine under the leaf, ready to tie.
- Set the fish in the middle of the leaf, or overlapped leaves if using two.
- Drizzle with olive oil or melted butter, as you have chosen.
- Brush a little of the savory fig sauce (or sauce of choice), across each fish filet. Layer the slices of citrus, veggies, chili, herbs you have chosen to use and finish with a sprinkle of salt.
- Bring all the fingers of the leaves into the center to overlap each other. Tie the twine around the bundle just as you would a package.
- Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes.
- Allow to rest 5-minutes before serving