Saturday, May 14, 2011

My First Dolma

Bought a jar of grape leaves at Andy's Fruit Ranch on a whim, thinking how tough can it be? Dolma are basically little rice leaf burritos, right? I can do that.

Andy's usually has a bunch of great weird vegetables, but things were pretty dry this trip. They had some cool looking little avocados and some fennel, and I remember reading a thing about female fennel plants having more flavor, and decided I was going to find me a female fennel. You identify the female plant by the shape of the bulb, round and voluptuous is female, longer and more cylindrical is male. I poked through all their fennel and finally found one with a big can on it. I named her Latifa and brought her home.

Classic dolma are stuffed with par-boiled dill rice and finished in stock, but I wanted to bang these out in a hurry, so they could be eaten right away. I sweated some chopped apples and onions, then added the rice and water along with a bay leaf. While the rice was cooking I prepared the other stuff for the middle of the dolma. I sliced the fennel into thin crescents and cut the flesh of the avocado into slices. The little avocado was really cool. The flesh was a uniform ochre color, the seed was small and hard, and the skin was almost like a piece of tupperware. I just had to flex the halved avocado a little and all the flesh popped out in a single kernel.

When the rice was done, chopped a couple of scallions and a mess of mint and stirred it into the rice and made the dolma. Turns out it's totally easy. The grape leaves have a little stem, which may be edible, I don't know, but it definitely interferes with rolling, so I nipped it off. I made each package with a slice of avocado, a couple slices of fennel and a blop of rice, just rolled up like a burrito.

I made a dipping sauce because fuck it, why not. Grated some ginger, chopped some garlic, stirred it into some mustard, tamari soy, siracha and sesame oil. Boom, great sauce. I know it isn't culturally correct, but it's tasty as hell. Chuck got me a ceramic ginger grater a few years ago, and I feel like an idiot not using it until recently. Regular graters, even microplanes, gag on the fibers of ginger. The little ceramic guy is fantastic, makes a great puree of the ginger and leaves the fibers still attached to the root. Super great tool.

Some of the leaves have tough fibers, but you can't tell by looking, you just need to fish them out of your mouth. Otherwise, Dolma are really easy. (v)


  1. I did not know that fennel could be discerned via male and female appearances. I buy fennel a lot...and from this point on, will always seek out a round, full chick!

  2. I am not a certified fennel sexer, but I remembered reading about it in enough detail that I didn't even bother googling it. Do you want to google it for me?

  3. Looking good. Just like burritos, egg rolls, and these:


  4. i like the fennel idea. kind of innovative for a dolma. weirdly, i had dolmas yesterday too. mine had cheese though. i have issues with cheese. i think the fennel version would have been better. you know what i hate about blogger blogs? for some reason, my computer freaks out when i try to comment on them.

  5. That's awesome. Like we say over at Ωµ, "Get the Led out!"

  6. It's true....totally true...

  7. Hi, Just found your blog- very cool! I had no idea you were a cook. I am a friend of Manny N; married to Juan (John) Alderete and just wanted to pop in and say hi from both of us. I've had a food blog for six years and am just in the process of moving it from blogger to wordpress, so not everything is done but please check it out if you get a chance.

    Looking forward to reading about your kitchen and dining adventures.

  8. Yummi! Love Dolma, need to try it myself instead of buying some.

  9. Have you tried blanching fresh vine/grape leaves for dolma? Beats the hell out of canned ones...

  10. theunder, I don't have a grape vine handy, but I believe you that it would be better to use fresh ones.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.