Briks are a traditional Tunisian appetizer made up of small packets of minced lamb, beef, seafood or vegetables combined with parsley and an egg, wrapped in thin pastry and deep fried. Briks are eaten with the hands and require a little attention to keep streams of egg yolk from trickling down your chin.
If you are up to the task, you can make the traditional semolina-based pastry, known as warka by hand. Most recipes we’ve come across doubt that you are up to the task and suggest using phyllo dough instead. But Paula Wolfert, who sneakily slipped a Tunisian Brik recipe into her excellent book, Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco (Canada, UK), says Chinese spring roll skins might be a better choice.
Squeezing a whole raw egg into the wrapper before sealing it is another little challenge. This may be one of the few times where you’re better off buying small eggs. One recipe even suggests quail’s eggs.
Making briks is not hard, but the pastry you choose and the size of your eggs will determine the quantities you need, so we’ll just outline the process and let you work out the specifics. Cook a diced onion or two gently in a bit of butter, until it is completely soft but not brown. Mix in your primary ingredient – drained tuna; precooked ground lamb or beef; diced, cooked potatoes and scallions, anchovies, etc. – along with a couple tablespoons of parsley, salt and pepper, and, if you like, a bit of grated parmesan cheese and some capers.
Prepare the pastry and spoon some of the filling onto one side of each wrapper. Make an indentation in the center of the filling and crack an egg into it. Fold up the pastry and seal it with beaten egg white. Fry the briks in oil that is at least an inch deep. Fry them on one side until golden brown, spooning a bit of hot oil on the exposed side, then turn it over and fry the other side. Frying time will not exceed two to three minutes per side. Drain the briks on paper towels, garnish with lemon wedges and serve immediately.
Note: Because of concerns over salmonella, many people are uncomfortable preparing dishes in which the eggs are only partially cooked. Most Tunisians do not share this concern.