When I was in Paris a few weeks ago, I bought this nifty wee cookbook in the Institute du Monde Arabe.
I hardly speak French, but I figured learning it from a cookbook would be the second most pleasant and efficient way to pick up some French. The first most pleasant and efficient way to learn any language is to find yourself a lover who’s a native speaker of that language, but unfortunately I don’t have a French lover, so the book will have to do.
Thankfully it’s going pretty well. The recipes aren’t all that complicated, and there’s always the dictionary. Also, every single recipe has a picture, so at least I know what the final result is meant to look like.
One of the most exciting things in this book are bricks (pronounced breek), a sort of filled pastry, a triangular spring roll, as it were. They’re originally from North Africa and they are really, really tasty. The pastry you should use for them, feuille des bricks, is unfortunately very hard to come by here in the UK. However, filo pastry makes for a decent substitute.You can fill bricks with just about anything, I really like the ones with fish. Bricks aux sardines, as from my nifty new cookbook, with some alterations.
For 8 bricks, a snack or a starter for 2, you will need:
- 4 sheets of filo pastry
- 1 tin of sardines in oil
- 1 egg
- a couple of spring onions
- about an inch of fresh red chili
- a small clove of garlic
- half a bunch of coriander
- olive oil for frying
- wedges of lemon, to serve
First prepare the filling. Finely chop the spring onion, the garlic, the chili and the coriander. Drain the sardines, clean them if necessary and mash them with a fork. Mix the fish with all of the chopped herbs. Whisk up the egg and stir it through the fish mixture. Add a pinch of salt.
Take out the sheets of filo pastry. The next step will depend on the size of the sheets, mine were two squares but I’m not too sure about the dimension. Experiment a little if you’re not sure.
Assuming there’s one universal size of filo pastry sheets, cut the sheets in half so that you get two perfect squares. Fold these squares so that you get a long sheet of three layers. Put a little of the filling on the bottom end, and fold as follows:
There’ll be some left at the top. If it’s too much, cut some of it off. Then fold it into the triangle:
Now fry the bricks in some olive oil. The oil has to be hot enough to start bubbling when you put the bricks in, but not so hot that they burn before the filling cooks. They’ll probably need about 10 minutes, 5 minutes on each side.
Put the bricks on some kitchen tissue, then on a plate with some lemon wedges. Sprinkle with some more chopped coriander.