Today’s dish is a variance of a classic: vine leafs stuffed with minced beef.
Before I proceed with the dish, there are some clarifications required on the words used to name the dish.
Literally speaking, the vine leafs are not “stuffed”. They are “wrapped”.
The Turkish word for stuffed is “dolma”. We find the same word in Persia. In Arabic though, stuffed is “mahshi”. The relevant word in Armenian is “tolma”.
The Turkish word for wrapped is “sarma”.
And the Turkish word for leaf is “yaprak”. The same word is used in Persia and Albania.
In Greek we use all three words: ντολμαδες (dolma) σαρμαδακια (sarma), γιαπρακια (yaprak).
Having somehow sorted out the vocabulary, lets turn to the cooking.
I blanche the vine leafs, 5 seconds each, and let them rest without placing them in a cold bath.
I like the stuffing to be minced beef with parsley, coriander, lemon zest, sauteed chopped onions and a handful of bulgur wheat.
I do not like to add rice to the stuffing.
I sautee the onions but not brown them, let them rest, drain them, and then add them to the minced meat mix.
Ater the stuffing has rested for about 30 minutes in the fridge, I wrap the vine leafs and place them over medium heat, adding a moderate amount of the onion liquids.
While the “yaprak” are cooking slowly, I take thin slices of tender beef pastirma, remove the paste covering it (cemen), and chop them.
The paste is the best ingredient to spice up the fresh yogourt that will accompany the “yaprak”.
After 45 minutes the “yaprak” are ready.
I remove from the heat and let them rest for 30 minutes.
I serve the “yaprak” on a bed of the spicy yogourt, and sprinkle over them the chopped pastirma.
A medium bodied red is the best wine to accompany this dish. Enjoy it.