Thursday, April 20, 2006

Malsouka: Tunisian Brik Pastry

I love exotic ingredients. I’d never seen this pastry before (purchased at the Essential Ingredient) so it was an absolute must buy and try. The helpful chap at EI said it was a bit like Asian spring roll pastry to use – which was sort of true – but I think it’s quite different in texture and flavour. It doesn’t need to be frozen and it’s a little more like a stiff crepe, and less pliable or stretchy than spring roll pastry. There’s a website for the importers, but it doesn’t tell you much about what to do with them.

Coming from Tunisia all the instructions are in French, which I luckily speak fairly well, but even school French would get you into the basic swing of what to do, especially with the helpful origami-like illustrations on the back of the packet showing how to fold it into different shapes. You can use sweet or savoury fillings to make Tunisian ‘Brik’ (or Bric) and a few recipes I spied while looking on the web (like this one) had spicy meat fillings, which appealed more at the time to the ravenous hordes than the sweet ones. They often have an egg cracked over the mixture before folding which, as it is quite an art, I decided not to indulge in this first time as I didn’t want to get into 'egg spilling out all over the bench inevitably leading to cranky cook' territory. The important thing with a meat-based filling is to cook it first before assembling, as the sheets brown extremely quickly in the oil and there would be no way a raw meat filling would cook in the same time as the wrapping turns golden brown. I pinched a Stephanie Alexander curry puff filling, so it was Kuala Lumpur meets Carthage in a tag-team event …
1 tbsp Malaysian curry paste or Laksa paste mixed with 1 tbsp water
1 tbsp peanut oil
1 small onion finely chopped or minced
200g chicken breast fillet, finely diced
150 g potatoes diced the same size as the chicken
100 mls coconut milk
1 fresh green chilli, seeded and finely diced
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves

Fry the onion ‘til translucent on a medium heat in the oil, and add the paste mixture. Stir and fry for 1 minute. Add the chicken, potato and salt to taste and fry for a few more minutes. Add the coconut milk and reduce to a simmer, then cover and cook 5 minutes until the potato is tender. Add chilli and coriander, increase the heat and cook stirring 'til the liquid is evaporated. Cool completely.

Take a sheet of malsouka and lay a thin line of about 2-3 tablespoons of the mixture along the pastry. Fold the bottom section closest to you over the filling, then fold in the two sides, then roll into a cigar shape. Brush the edges with egg wash. Fry the cigars in vegetable or peanut oil for a few minutes each side. Makes 8 briks.

The filling was fabulous and just spicy enough, while being very aromatic. The pastry is light, airy and crisp, crackling and splintering in the mouth as you bite into each brik. I'll get more authentic next time and do a meat, parsley, cheese, and raw egg one (eek!) when I'm feeling very patient. Maybe I'll fold it into a stork shape or a jumping frog as well.

Societe Elgamra feuilles de Malsouka
Available from the Essential Ingredient
AUD $6.50 for 10 sheets.


Blogger deborah said...

looks and sounds delicious. i love Essential Ingredient! I'm a little bummed they moved from their old location, as it was only a bus ride away from where I live.

Nice combination of ingredients for the filling. For some reason i want to make a morrocon syle dish with sweet potato, corriander and mint with this wrapping. I wonder if it can be baked...? Suppose i'll need to find some myself and give it a shot.

4:47 PM  
Blogger Reb said...

Mee too Saffron - but I must admit their move has done wonders for my budget! They use brik in Morocco too, there are tajine recipes using the leaves as well, so your filling sounds great. If you baked it you'd need an oil spray, I reckon, coz the pastry is quite dry. Let me know how you go!

8:48 AM  
Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said...

Wow. Yummilicious! I'd love to try these with lamb mince, coriander and pine nuts. Mmm..

10:05 AM  
Blogger Julia said...

I love bric! Your filling sounds so good and Helen's are such a great combo. FYI the Turkish place in the nice foodhall at Westfield Bondi Junction does kebbeh with those fillings and they are very good...great as a snack while shopping :-)

10:44 AM  
Blogger kestypes said...


I found a tuna and egg filling in 'The Momo Cookbook'.

150 grams tuna in oil drained
2 tablespoons oilive oil
2 onions diced
6 tablespoons fresh flat leaved parsley
salt and pep.

Drain tuna. Heat olive oil. Add onion and parsley and cook on low for 6 to 7 minutes. Off the heat and tuna and mix to a paste. Season.

Not as deliciously spicy sounding as yours, but i think it would have a place.

Also Claudia Roden has a few in her Middle Eastern cookbook.

Rick Stein has a deliciously spicy prawn filling that he does in fresh pappadums (they took a while to find), which I would imagine would be fantastic too.

6:09 PM  
Blogger Reb said...

Great tips! I can see a world if fillings for these little babies!

7:43 AM  

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