Chefs' Recipes

Jordan Toft's grilled hapuku with preserved lemon and vine leaves

Grilled fish and lemon? It just works.

By Jordan Toft
  • 25 mins preparation
  • 40 mins cooking plus preparing barbecue, resting
  • Serves 6
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"Cooked over charcoal at a low heat, the hapuku skin crisps while the large white flakes stay translucent and soft," says Jordan Toft. "At Bert's we complement the sweet flesh with a salsa picante of house-preserved lemon rind and brined vine leaves made crisp by frying in oil. A twist of black pepper and you're ready to go."


  • 6 hapuku fillets (250gm each), skin on, at room temperature
  • 75 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sunflower oil, for deep-frying
  • 12 preserved vine leaves (see note), dried flat on paper towels
  • ¾ preserved lemon
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice


  • 1
    Burn coals on a charcoal barbecue in a pile until embers are ashed over and reduced to low heat (about 45 minutes), then spread embers out in an even layer. Alternatively, preheat a barbecue to low heat.
  • 2
    Brush fish with 3 tsp olive oil and season. Grill indirectly, skin-side down, until cooked halfway through, but still rare in the centre (25-30 minutes), then turn and grill on the flesh side until medium-rare (5-10 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside for 5 minutes to rest.
  • 3
    Meanwhile, heat sunflower oil in a deep-fryer or large saucepan to 180°C. Deep-fry vine leaves in batches until crisp (30 seconds per side) and drain on paper towels.
  • 4
    Remove and discard flesh from preserved lemon, finely chop pith and skin, then coarsely crush with a mortar and pestle. Whisk remaining olive oil and lemon juice in a bowl until emulsified, add preserved lemon and mix well.
  • 5
    Dress hapuku with preserved lemon dressing, season to taste and serve with crisp vine leaves.


Preserved vine leaves are available from delicatessens.
Drink suggestion: A subtle chardonnay such as the 2016 "Brunnen" from up-and-coming vignerons Schmölzer & Brown, from Beechworth, Victoria. Drink suggestion by Adrian Filiuta.