Tunisian Briks

These wonderful pastries might be reminiscent of knishes but they are literally worlds apart.  Brik is the iconic street food of Tunisia.  Street vendors sell these savory fried turnovers of dough filled with meat, fish or vegetable stuffing all over Tunisia. Their popularity is similar to the sale of hot dogs in our country or falafel in Israel.  Normally Briks are served with Harissa, but here I have used some of the spicy relish to enhance the flavor of the sweet potato filling.  Sweet potatoes were brought, in the 16th century, by the Portuguese from the New World to Africa where it has been continuously cultivated to this day.

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
1 Tablespoon finely chopped flat leaf parsley
8 ounces cooked sweet potato, preferably with pale flesh
2 teaspoons Harissa, or more to taste
1 egg, separated
Salt to taste
12-15 regular sized (8 inch square) lumpia shells or thin spring roll skins

1 or more cups of vegetable oil for frying briks

1.    Heat an 8 inch skillet over high heat for 20 seconds; add olive oil and heat for 10 seconds more.  Reduce the heat if oil is smoking and add the onion.

2.    Sauté the onion until golden.  Add the garlic and sauté another minute until mixture is fragrant; do not let garlic get too dark.

3.    Remove the skillet with the onion mixture from the heat and add the parsley and potato.  Mash the potato well to mix all of the ingredients together.  Add the Harissa, egg yolk and salt to taste and stir to combine.

4.    Combine the remaining egg white with 1 teaspoon of water.

5.    Lay one lumpia skin on a board.  Place 1 heaping Tablespoon potato mixture in the center.  Using your finger, rub some egg white on the bottom and top edge of the shell.

6.    Fold the bottom edge over the filling and lightly press down along the edge.  Do the same with the top edge.

7.    Rub some egg white on the left and right edge of the formed rectangle.  Fold the right edge over the filled section and gently press down to seal the edge.  Repeat with the left edge creating a packet that looks almost square. Place seam side down on a plate while you form the other packets.

8.    Pour the oil into a flat bottomed wok or a small saucepan so that the oil is 1 inch deep.

9.    Heat oil until hot, but not smoking and registers 350F on a frying thermometer.

10.    Place the packets, 2 or 3 at a time into the hot oil seam side down.  Fry until lightly golden and the tops begin to puff up a little. Turn briks over and fry just until lightly browned.  Immediately remove from oil with a wire spatula or slotted spoon.

11.    Drain on paper towel and serve immediately. Additional Harissa may be used for a dip, if desired.

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