Traditional Tunisian Brik
Mona Farrugia prepares some Tunisian fast food.
There was a time when I used to go to Tunisia practically once a year, sometimes even more frequently. A five-day trip with flights and top notch accommodation (at the Corinthia, no less) thrown in would cost around a hundred Maltese liri (about â‚¬260), usually with the food included. This worked out at a lot less than a weekend in Gozo. The Maltese went wild. Scenes of families bringing back massive stuffed camels, huge birdcages and leather speedos (which for us, at the time, were the cylindrical sports bags rather than some kind of sexy swimwear) abounded at the airport.
I miss Tunisia. I miss the ease of going there (short flight, simple transit) and I miss even the friends I made there. I remember them asking me for copies of Paolo Coelho's books (they were banned) which I found terribly bizarre and professing a distrust for the internet as the only company belonged to the now deposed Tunisian president Ben Ali's daughter.
I especially miss brik, that fabulously crispy packet of parsley, tuna and gooey, runny egg. What a brilliant breakfast or lunch it makes.
Finding it for sale at Ali Baba in Gzira gave me no end of joy.
To make the filling you need:
4 tuna sticks (from a jar) or a large can of tuna, flaked
4 tablespoons chopped parsley or fresh mint
sea salt and freshly-ground pepper
1 small onion, chopped small
1 teaspoon of harissa or chilli paste
4 small eggs
An inch of cheap olive oil for deep frying
Place a tablespoon of filling in the centre of the malsouqa disk. Then, with your fingers, move the filling around so that you create a ring with the filling into which you open an egg: the filling will stop the white from running. Then fold over the pastry to form a semi circle. I prefer to do this as I absolutely adore the fried pastry, which becomes so crispy. Otherwise you can also fold in four, as per the picture.
Fry in hot oil for a few seconds until the pastry browns. The reason why you do not shallow fry is that you want the pastry to brown at the same time, top and bottom, rather than have to turn it over which can be dangerous.
Eat immediately. Prepare tissues as part of the pleasure is the egg yolk running down the side of your chin.
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