Tuesday, October 02, 2007

les briks au thon

served as a either a snack, light supper or lunch, les briks au thon (spicy tuna enclosed in thin pastry) is a popular, muslim and jewish, north african item which is much loved. they can be made very mild or quite spicy, the latter requiring the essential harissa. what makes them unique is the use of diced preserved lemons which are tangy in addition to being somewhat sour and salty.

essential to making them is the round thin pastry sheets called brik which can usually be bought at markets catering to middle eastern food and/or sephardic jewish clientele. they are larger than a dinner plate and have a thicker texture than that of phyllo. in the absence of availability of brik, one can use spring roll wrappers but the brik will have to be shaped differently and much smaller than shown below. if using spring roll wrappers, i'd suggest using hard boiled eggs which have been chopped rather than the whole raw egg as it just wont fit in a spring roll wrapper properly.

brik take no time to make once your filling ingredients are ready. the way i cook them uses very little oil and they are ready in only a few minutes with quite decent results.

brik au thon

spicy hot harissa, sour preserved lemons, salty wrinkled black moroccan olives and several briny capers, along with the simple addition of some tuna and an egg make a wonderful filling — all encased in a crispy wrapper. serve with some wedges of lemon and perhaps extra harissa if you're daring, this makes a light delicious meal or snack.

makes 2


3 sheets brik pastry, 2 whole & 1 cut in half
1 can tuna, packed in oil or water
1 wedge preserved lemon
several moroccan (wrinkled type) black olives or kalamata
1 tbsp capers in brine or salt (washed well)
1/4 onion, chopped small
parsley leaves, whole or chopped
harissa paste, to taste
1 egg per brik
salt and pepper

egg wash, optional (not necessary in my opinion)


prepare the lemon and chop the olives. make egg wash, if using.

place the ingredients on a plate near your workspace.

in a LARGE non stick frypan, add 2 to 3 tbsp vegetable or regular olive oil and heat over medium heat. the pan must be hot when you add the brik or it will suck up a lot of oil.

with the pan heating, cut 1 sheet of brik in half. place 1/2 a sheet in the middle of 1 full sheet as shown below. this is done so as to make a more stable wrapper — think of it as an insurance once you bend the brick over. if the brik is slightly dry, it will snap and leave a spot where it may seep. it also prevents the filling from cooking too quickly before the rest of the pastry is fried.

place the tuna, preserved lemon, olives, onions and capers in the center of the pastry.

add salt and pepper to taste and harissa paste. you can add the parsley, too.

make a little well and carefully break a whole egg, pouring it in the little well.

if using the egg wash, paint a semi-circle around the top edge. i don't use any as the pastry will seal itself with the heat when frying. if your new to this then use the egg wash.

carefully transfer the pastry to the hot pan and cook each side for 3 to 4 minutes. it should be golden brown on each side.

if you like your egg a little runny then cook for 3 minutes per side.

serve with wedges of lemon.



Anonymous said...

MMMMMMMMMM, I'm hungry and this looks tasty! LOL

burekaboy — said...

hi jamila - :)) definitely good any time of the day, right? ;p do you make them the same way?

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

Good to know that you can use premade pastry. I love these empanada-type things but the dough is a *pain*!

burekaboy — said...

emily - yep, a big pain especially if you're making many -- as for brik, very few people would ever make this type of pastry sheet at home anyway. feh, why sweat when you can buy it, LOL.

Nafeesah said...

feh, i like that word now, feh feh feh, lolol BBoy your blog looks as if you've been going thru a cooking frenzy!! but WOW the recipes look so amazing.........since Its Ramadhan I've been trying to keep away from here so as not to torture my self haha!!

I've never heard of this type of pastry though...looks and sounds absolutely delicious, I love the way the egg is placed in the middle though, so creative :)

Anonymous said...

Pretty much the same, minus the lemon and capers. Looks yummy & I will have to try them this way too. I guess most Algerians don't use two proteins together, but I do it. lol

burekaboy — said...

nafeesah! - i thought you'd gotten swallowed by a tsunami! LOL ;) ramadan karim - hope the fasting is going well.

looks can be deceiving, much of the stuff i've posted was made/done a long time ago.

i guess the brik (also called malsouka and ouarka) is only a north african type of pastry. it's used for all sorts of things both sweet and savoury. it's much thicker than phyllo and crispier when fried or baked.

jamila - hmmm, always thought egg and tuna were mixed :o
anyhow, it's a good combo and super fast to make. are you trying to tell me you've never used preserved lemons?! LOL.

sara said...

hi b.b.,this blog of yours is ARTISTRY not only bec of the recipes but also the pics!i've had and made many empanadillas but never such an original one.had never heard about preserved lemons,i'll shop some today but i'll have to wait a whole month to make these briks!btw i'll be arranging your chicken paprikash tomorrow,still haven't decided if i'm going to add sour cream or not.Muchas gracias por tus recetas,maestro!

Nafeesah said...

Swallowed by a tsunami!! :o your imagination horrifies me BB tsk tsk...:p

No, besides fasting i've just been really busy packing to go back to Malaysia!! Can you guess how ecstatic I am :p once I get there God Willing I can once again begin cooking up some of your recipes for my (humongous) family back there :)

Anonymous said...

Never used preserved lemons in Briks, :-). I guess the whole bourek or brik thing depends on which part of Algeria you live in. Since I'm in the USA, I guess it doesn't matter much. LOL

burekaboy — said...

sara - LOL, what compliments you bestow upon me, srta! :) que puedo decirte!! as for the lemons, if you salt them and leave them for the week you can use them after that but it's better to wait so they cure completely. i've had them after a week and they're decent. you could always break off one piece to try it if you can't wait the month! hope the chicken recipe turns out well; it's very popular using the sour cream but i don't mix them as you know.

nafeesah - hehe, i actually meant a tsunami of business not a REAL one!! ;)

happy to hear you're back to malaysia where you can get hold of all those things you miss and will be able to see family again. being stuck on a small island is idyllic yet it has its drawbacks. happy packing. when are you leaving, btw?

jamila - when in rome.... LOL. they're good either way you prepare them, right? :))

sara said...

what else can i say? i'm highly impressed on your cooking. made these delicacies and they are wonderful, full of flavour, colour, spice.hot and crispy.i'll be making them over and over.

burekaboy — said...

sari - don't say anything, just eat! LOL.

yup, love these. now you just have to wait for the citrons confits to add! they really add a lot of flavour and are different.

i like these briks when the egg is not fully cooked. oh yeah, you can fold them up like an envelope too, not just the way i show here.