January 18, 2014

Recipe: Smoked Tomato Briks with Chermoula Sauce

Almost every culture has fried pastries of some kind - sweet, savory, or both - and Tunisia is no exception. Briks are a savory Tunisian treat of delicate pastry sheets enveloping any number of fillings - spiced potato, an egg and tuna combo, ground meat - and then fried until the exterior is crisp and golden. This recipe for vegan briks is a play on the ground meat version, which I created for Field Roast Grain Meat Co. as their "Urban Foodie" Recipe Developer (more about that here). 

Field Roast's Smoked Tomato Quarter Loaf makes a beautiful ground "meat" when pulsed in a food processor. Mix in traditional Tunisian ingredients - spicy harissa, bright lemon zest, and briny capers - and you've got a simple and flavorful filling for your vegan briks. Once the briks are filled, fried, and sprinkled with crunchy shards of coarse salt, you'll serve them alongside Chermoula, a traditional North African sauce bright with lemon, cilantro, and parsley. The combination of hot, crunchy fried pastries and the cool, vibrant sauce is phenomenal. 

Traditional briks use a special pastry sheet, called maslouqua or warka, which is very similar to wheat wonton and springroll wrappers. If you can locate the real stuff at a local Middle Eastern grocer, by all means do so! This recipe calls for wonton wrappers as I've found them to be widely carried in a well-stocked supermarket. Keep an eye on the ingredient list, as some wonton wrappers aren't vegan. I used the Twin Dragon brand of wonton wrappers, which were available at my local Safeway and QFC.

A quick word on frying at home: I'm generally not a huge fan (it can get messy; using a ton of oil can get pricey) but there's really no way to do a brik justice without some hot oil-y action. You can minimize the amount of oil needed by choosing a pot 8 to 10 inches wide - you'll be able to achieve the proper depth without a ton of oil. 

Smoked Tomato Briks with Chermoula Sauce
Serves: 4-6
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

6 ounces (half of one loaf) Field Roast Smoked Tomato Quarter Loaf, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon capers, well rinsed
1 teaspoon harissa
1 teaspoon finely-grated lemon zest
16-24 vegan wonton wrappers
water, for sealing the wontons
2-3 cups oil for frying, such as grapeseed or peanut
Coarse salt
Chermoula Sauce (recipe below)

In a food processor, pulse the Field Roast, capers, harissa, and lemon zest until the mixture has the texture of ground meat. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside. Place your wonton wrappers on a plate covered by a slightly-moist paper towel and prepare a "landing" zone for the assembled briks with a large platter or sheet pan covered by slightly-moist paper towel.

To assemble each brik: Place 1 1/2 tablespoons of filling in the center of one wonton wrapper (a #40/medium cookie scoop is the perfect tool for this job). Moisten the edges of the wrapper (all four sides) before placing a second wonton on top on the first to create a ravioli-style pastry. Positioning the second wrapper works best if you match up all of the edges first, then lightly press down on the pastry's center to release any air trapped in the filling. After removing the air from the pastry, press all four edges to form a good seal, then transfer to the "landing zone" platter and cover with the moistened paper towel. Repeat this process until all of the filling is gone - you should end up with 8-12 briks.

To fry the briks: Lay a double-layer of paper towels over a cooling rack/sheet pan and set aside. In a large, high-sided pot, add enough oil to reach a depth of about 1 1/2 inches.  Place pot over medium to medium-high heat and bring oil up to 350 degrees - the easiest way to measure this is with a cooking thermometer. If you don't have a thermometer, wait until the pot of oil is shimmering (but NOT smoking), then test the temperature of the oil by frying "test strips" of an extra wonton wrapper - a one-inch strip of wonton should fry up to a golden brown within 10-15 seconds.

Once the oil reaches 350 degrees, gently slide one brik into the pot, carefully spooning oil over any unsubmerged dough. Fry until the edges of the brik turn golden, then use tongs to turn over the brik and fry other side. Once brik is evenly golden brown and crisp, use tongs to carefully lift it from the oil, allowing excess oil to drain off before transferring to the cooling rack and sprinkling with coarse salt. Repeat this process, cooking one (or two, if your pot is roomy enough) brik at a time, until all the briks are fried. Serve immediately alongside Chermoula sauce.

 Chermoula Sauce

1 cup cilantro leaves, lightly packed
1/2 cup parsley leaves, lightly packed
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons harissa
1/4 salt
1/4 cup olive oil

In a food processor, pulse the cilantro, parsley, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, harissa, and salt until herbs are very finely chopped. Add the olive oil and pulse until mixture forms a textured sauce (quite similar to a pesto). Taste for seasoning, adjust if necessary, then transfer to a small bowl and set aside until ready to serve.

I am thrilled to be working with Field Roast as a "Cooks in the Field" recipe developer. Please note that my contract with Field Roast does not include any sponsored posts on Braisen Woman - all words and content of this post are my own. In accordance with FTC guidelines, any and all sponsored content will be clearly disclosed as such.


  1. Holy moly! This looks amazing! I loooove chermoula, it's packed with so much flavour. Thanks for sharing :)

    1. Thanks, Caeli! Thanks for stopping by. I swung by your blog, and I have to say, your travels in Australia look amazing!