Crab and Egg Brik
A ‘brik’ is an exquisite pastry from Tunisia, and the inspiration for this recipe was two-fold. First, the recipe for a crab brik, with no egg, in the fabulous Moro cookbook, which I have always salivated over but never got round to making. Secondly, the vivid memories I have of eating genuine ‘brik à l’oeuf’ in Tunisia on holiday as a teenager – crisp, crunchy pastry surrounding soft oozing egg, utter delicious simplicity. The other overriding memory of that holiday is of the plane journey to get there. We flew over the Med, and as we reached land on the other side, Mum jumped up and down shrieking, ‘Africa, there’s Africa down there,’ mortifying me and my brother into head-burying hormonal silence. Her excitement was no doubt fuelled by the couple of nerve-steadying gins she had consumed during the flight. All these years later, as I make my own brik for the first time, I remember the incident with a wide smile, amazed by the things that are lodged deep down in my memory.
My recipe combines egg with crab for a doubly gorgeous treat. We ate them in the garden bathed in the warm spring sunshine, enveloped contentedly in one of those happy-to-be-alive moments. The yolks of the eggs were super golden, meaning I must have been treating the hens to extra greens. In my short time as a novice henkeeper I have noticed that extra cabbage equals extra rich and extra yellow, almost orange, yolks.
- 250 g fresh crab meat, half brown meat for flavour and half white meat for texture
- 4 spring onions, finely sliced
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped, seeds in or out depending on your preference for heat
- Small handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- Juice of ½ a lemon
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 sheets of filo pastry
- 50-75 g unsalted butter, melted
- 4 eggs
- Coarse sea salt, to finish
Preheat the oven to 220°C/Gas 7.
In a small bowl, mix together the crab, spring onion, chilli and parsley. Stir through the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and black pepper.
Unroll 2 sheets of the filo and sandwich them together with a little melted butter. Spoon a quarter of the crab mixture into the centre and create a deep indentation in the middle with the back of a teaspoon. Crack an egg into this, then fold one side of the pastry carefully over it. Brush with a little more butter before folding the other side up over the top. You should now have enclosed the filling and be left with a sort of flattened cracker shape. Brush the surface gently with more butter, then fold up the two ‘tails’, brushing once again so the surface is well buttered all over.
Place the brik on a baking tray, seam-side down, and repeat with the remaining filo until you have 4 neat parcels. Brush the top surface with a final slick of butter and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. It may feel like you are using a lot of butter, but briks are normally deep-fried, and these baked versions need a generous amount of butter to get the pastry to crisp up in the oven.
Bake in the oven for 12–15 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden. Serve hot from the oven.