A great classic of North African cuisine today: bricks! These delicacies that are stuffed then fried are popular throughout the Mediterranean and beyond.
Brick is a very thin dough, as thin as a sheet of paper, often round-shaped. Brick dough, as well as the recipes using it, bear different names depending on the country. Brick of course, but also dyoul (or dioul) in Algeria, briouat (briwat or briwattes) but also warka (or ouarka) in Morocco, malsouka in Tunisia. In Egypt and Turkey, they are called sanbusak. The Sephardic Jews also prepare them, often under the name of beztels with brick dough as well. There are also the boureks of Lebanon and the Balkans. In India, they are called samosas.
It is also worth mentioning the börek, coming from the Persian word bürak, which is originally from Central Asia and became more popular with the expansion of the Byzantine Empire, then through the Ottoman Empire until it reached Greece, then Turkey and the Maghreb countries. It is therefore in Persia that you will find the origin of these preparations before they were made popular by the great empires of the East.
Brick dough is made with flour, fine semolina, salt and water. It is therefore different from filo dough, also called yufka in Turkish, which is made with flour, salt, water and fat (olive oil, butter, margarine, etc.). It is a very thin dough so it becomes very crispy after it is fried although the filling remains soft thanks to a quick frying method.
It can be prepared in savory or sweet recipes! And the shapes vary as well. Semicircle. Triangle. Cylinder. In Morocco, the stuffing can be pigeon as in the pastilla, and there are thousands of variations throughout the Maghreb, with fillings that can include chicken, fish, shrimp and sometimes even lamb brains. But also just cheese, like the jben (sort of very firm white cheese found in Morocco and Tunisia), potatoes, as well as spinach. The eggs can be runny as in our recipe today but also hard. You can also add various herbs such as cilantro or parsley, as well as onions.
As far as sweet versions, you will find cigars for example, stuffed with almonds, topped with cinnamon, orange blossom water and drizzled with honey or syrup. They can also be triangles like samsa or sweet pastillas.
I have fond memories of these during my morning walks in the Barbés neighborhood in Paris during Ramadan. I tasted them a number of times, in the morning, as a small snack around 11 am or as an appetizer before lunch. Sometimes with tuna, sometimes with meat (with olives, an egg and … The laughing cow cheese). Always made on the spot, extra tasty and crispy.
We prepared these egg bricks with great pleasure. The most basic version is made only with an egg and you must take care to choose the fat in which you will fry your brick because it will bring a lot of the taste. We made the more fragrant version, the one with chopped cilantro and onion. It is necessary to act quickly and with dexterity. Indeed, the recipe may not be complicated, but it is necessary to carry out the steps with a soft assurance and a little speed. Another secret is to heat the oil or fat in the pan because the egg brick must be quickly fried for the result to be perfect. At the same time, do not extend the frying so the egg stays runny. Like all simple recipes, it is actually quite precise and requires attention. You can not hide any mistake as it is not forgiving.
We also enjoyed preparing a variation of this egg brick recipe by adding tuna, harissa and capers. This version is a little more hearty and very tasty.
But you are warned, tasting these delicious snacks without making a mess is a challenge because a good brick à l’oeuf is a brick whose yolk is still completely running … be careful with you beautiful shirts!
- 1 sheet brick dough
- 1 egg
- Harissa (optional)
- Canned tuna (optional)
- Capers (optional)
- Vegetable oil (for frying)
Heat oil in a large skillet. The oil should be hot but not steaming.
Place the sheet of brick dough in a large, deep dish and break an egg in the center.
(Optional) Add tuna, harissa and/or capers.
Season with salt and pepper.
Fold the sheet on itself to form a half circle and slide it gently into the hot oil, making sure that the egg does not escape.
Fry on medium heat for 2 minutes on each side, or a little more if you prefer the egg more cooked.
Serve immediately, with lemon, a salad and/or spicy chorba.
Before frying, you can sprinkle the egg with grated scallion and chopped cilantro.