Thursday, August 16, 2007

perfectly parve salmon burekas

burekas (boor-ray-kahs) come in all shapes and sizes and myriad fillings — with anything from spicy ground meat, vegetables (eg. mashed potatoes & onion), cheese or fish inside their pastry. encased in either a puff type dough or a simple one made of just flour, oil and a little water or yogurt, it's no wonder why these are so popular and much loved. as my blog moniker suggests, i enjoy all kinds — especially puff pastry ones oozing with melted cheese :)

the following salmon bureka is one which does not require a lot of cutting and shaping and can be served at a dinner party or holiday or sabbath meal, as an appetizer or replacing a fish course. often, we eat these just as a light dinner course, with a soup and salad or rice.

to make this completely parve, or dairy free, i use crumbled extra firm plain tofu which is bound together with an egg. it does NOT taste like "tofu" once it is seasoned and baked and, in fact, most people don't know it's not a cheese of some sort. if you can't stand tofu, or are allergic to soy products, you can use ricotta, or ricotta mixed with a bit of feta or mozzarella, to the same effect.

if the following filling doesn't do it for you, think of this simply as a guide .... you can be inventive and use pretty much anything that suits your fancy. the only things to be mindful of are fillings which are too watery or bland. if the filling has no taste on its own before baking, chances are it won't taste like much once baked in the pastry casing. if using something like spinach, make sure it's squeezed dry before adding it to the filling mixture. burekas can also be served with a little sauce of some sort to compliment them.

salmon burekas — בורקס במילוי סלמון

makes 1 bureka roll (6 servings, approx.)


1/2 lb extra firm tofu [or 1 lb (500g) container ricotta*]
1/2 - 1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 egg

*you can mix the ricotta with other cheeses, like mozzarella or feta for a sharper flavour; you may not need the whole 500g of ricotta so judge accordingly. 250 g (1/2 lb) is probably enough for one bureka. using the egg with the cheese is optional but helpful in final texture. if using 250 g, you can just use the yolk and reserve the white for binding the bureka together and coating it for the sesame seeds. make sure to drain the ricotta well beforehand.

1 can salmon, or a good sized fillet of poached salmon (flaked)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp harissa (or other spices you like)

1/2 c sliced green or black olives
1 - 2 tbsp capers (optional)

2 hardboiled eggs, sliced or chopped (optional)

3 - 4 tbsp mayonnaise

1/2 lb (parve) puff pastry (250 g)

beaten egg, for egg wash
sesame seeds


cut block of tofu in half (if using a 1 lb piece).

crumble it finely with your hand in a bowl or place in food processor (easier method). it must be finely crumbled. it should have the same texture as fine ricotta cheese — which is why it is a great substitute.

add spices and seasonings.

add egg and stir. put in fridge until using.

if using ricotta, place in bowl and add egg and seasonings. add 1 tbsp flour. stir and leave in fridge until using.

open can of salmon and drain. remove bones (and skin). you can also use poached salmon; either flake it with a fork or break it up with your fingers.

place it in a medium sized bowl and mash it finely.

add salt and harissa or spices you like. it should be highly seasoned but not oversalted. place in fridge until using.

measure out olives. make sure they are drained.

if using hardboiled eggs, either slice them or mash them up.

take puff pastry and cut it in half if it is a 1 lb pkg.

preheat the oven to 400F.

it is best to proceed now on a large piece of wax paper or parchment. i tape two pieces of wax paper together. this is to make flipping the final bureka over on the baking sheet easier and prevent any rips or breaks in the dough.

place it on a well floured surface.

roll it out very thinly into a large rectangle. the exact size isn't crucial here as long as it's very thin (approx 1/16 - 1/8", no thicker).

place the tofu or ricotta filling in the center of the pastry along the long side of the pastry. leave a 2 inch border on either end. (if you are using the chopped or sliced eggs and want them on the top layer, add them before the tofu or cheese as you will be flipping the bureka over at the end).

fold each side over loosely to gauge the size — both flaps should meet exactly when folded over each other (see below in photos to understand).

now place the layer of sliced olives evenly over the tofu or cheese.

next, add the layer of salmon. place capers on top, if using.

if adding the chopped egg, place it over evenly now.

as your final layer, add a few tablespoons of mayonnaise. this adds moisture and gives the bureka more richness. take a beaten egg and pastry brush and paint all along the edges about 1 1/2 inches wide.

fold over the sides on either side about 1 1/2 to 2 inches.

with your fingers, press the folded dough just under filling on all sides to encase it securely.

now, take a knife or scissors and cut away as per the photo. this is to ensure that the baked bureka, at either end pieces, will not be overly doughy and will cook through (otherwise you'll end up with about 5 layers on either side -- it will still cook, for the most part, if you don't cut these 4 end pieces out, but it is more refined to cut it away). only cut through the top of the flap [in an "L" shape], not the bottom part!!

fold over one long side to the edge of the filling. paint the top of the pastry with egg.

fold the other side over and gently stretch it to meet the edge of the first folded flap. I cut the side flaps before each top and bottom lengthwise fold.

now take the bureka with the wax paper or parchment and flip it over on to a baking sheet.

take the rest of the egg and paint it all over the dough. cover the top of the bureka with sesame seeds. cut 1/2 inch vents along the pastry; do not skip this.

bake the bureka at 400 F for about 45 minutes or until golden brown and you see some of the juices escaping.

tip: when baking puff pastry, the standard procedure is to place droplets of water along the edges of the baking sheet (on the parchment, not the pastry itself) to add moisture to the air. as it evaporates, it creates steam and helps the puff pastry do its "puffing".

remove from oven and let cool for about 15 minutes before cutting in slices. the bureka can also be cut lengthwise, from end to end, and then crosswise into squares.

serve warm or at room temperature with salad or rice. the slices are also good cold, straight from the fridge the next day, if any of the bureka is left.



Emily DeVoto, Ph.D., said...

Dang, what a lousy time for me to go vegetarian. This sounds amazing, and is the perfect non-chicken shabbat recipe!

Nafeesah said...

MMMM now this sounds good! especially since I have a bunch of puff pastry in my freezer, but let me shut up now. I have cooking projects just piling up and I dont know which one to start, I can't add yet another one to the list as yet! :)

But Burekaboyyyyy the title is Salmon Burekas but in the instructions it clearly says "open can of tuna and drain"

Now which is it? My poor little brain is confuzzled :p

burekaboy — said...

emily - know, there's always reverse vegetarianism [maybe for one shabbat or two] ;) now why would you go 'n give up the official gefiltichicken?

oh oh nafeesah - i always know you read through everything and don't just look at the pictures!! LOL. thanks a million for finding that one. i must have had tuna on my mind. i actually don't eat a lot of salmon (canned), at least, as much as i do of tuna. you could use tuna, too, in this but the cans are small so it'd prob. have to be 2 cans. anyhow....

this is good for using up extra puff pastry; i have a few packs frozen, too. if you ever do try it, using the tofu (nobody knows but you! lol, you may even be able to fool your brother) makes it much higher in protein. it also keeps the bureka (pastry) a bit better than the one with cheese as it is lower in moisture content.

have fun with all your projects. i hope you're now de-confuzzled ;))

Nafeesah said...

Why thanks every so much BB for de-confuzzling me after confuzzling me so nicely :p

I think I would use the tofu too because actually I've been wanting to make some kimchi mandu (korean dumplings) and they have crumbled tofu in it just like this one...and plus I just love tofu!And so does my family so it wouldn't have to be a secret :)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Oh, yummy! That bureka looks gorgeous and ever so delicious! I love those kinds of specialities...

burekaboy — said...

nafeesah - lol, wouldn't want you walking around like that for long ;)

people here are still kind of weird about tofu, i find. i don't get it.

mandu aka potstickers/gyoza --> yum :D haven't had those in a long time come to think of it.

hi rosa - thanks :) virtually anything wrapped in pastry like this is good. of course, the one made with butter is even better :))

Maninas said...

wow! salmon burekas? great idea!

burekaboy — said...

hi maninas - yup, salmon :) they are a nice change from the regular ones.