It really felt like I was doing holiday cooking this weekend. I spent an entire day in the kitchen and we went full Moroccan this weekend. There is a sweet and savory dish called Bastilla that Moroccans make for special occasions. Its layers of flaky pastry like dough filled with warmly spiced meat, authentically chicken or pigeon, and topped with an intricately designed layer of powdered sugar and cinnamon. Making Bastilla is extremely time consuming and I decided to accompany that with a typical Moroccan favorite during the holidays, lamb. Moroccan’s would usually serve leg of lamb for a holiday and couscous is a must for any special occasion, however, I felt that might be a bit much for my family of two and a half. So, I decided to make Chermoula Lamb Chops, which I served with Basmati rice. Chermoula is an authentic Moroccan spice blend. You can get the recipe for my Chermoula Lamb Chops here.
Although Bastilla often pronounced Pastilla was originally made with meat, there are many variations of it. One particularly enticing is Seafood Bastilla. I did some extensive research on how to make this delicacy, as I have only had the pleasure of enjoying Bastilla in Moroccan restaurants. I noticed that authentic Bastilla will also have a layer of omelet like egg in it. I was set on making my Bastilla with seafood, because it simply sounded divine, but I wanted to authenticate it a bit more, so I chose to do a layer of egg even though I didn’t find Seafood Bastilla recipes that included it. Although I love the sugar and cinnamon topping on a typical Bastilla, I had to leave that off a seafood version, it just didn’t seem like it would work and it is not typically done by Moroccans. We don’t particularly care for fish, so I made it with only shrimp. Bellow is my recipe for Shrimp Bastilla.
Shrimp Bastilla Ingredients
9 oz. of uncooked shrimp
2 small rolls of Chinese vermicelli (also known as bean thread)
1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms (can also use another variety of dried black mushrooms)
3 tablespoons of finely chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon of chopped yellow onion
1 tablespoon of minced ginger
3 garlic cloves minced
2 scallion heads sliced
1 finely chopped tomato (found some recipes used tomato sauce as well, my settled for smashing my tomatoes a bit in a mortar a pestle to get the juices flowing)
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of ground cayenne
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
Pinch of hot chili pepper
Pinch of saffron
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoon of olive oil
In Morocco they use a pastry called WARQA but if you can’t find it, feel free to use spring roll pastry or Phyllo dough (I used Phyllo Dough, but it doesn’t brown very well, next time I will try spring roll pastry)
½ Stick of Butter
1 cup of hot water
¼ cup of Shredded Swiss cheese or any cheese of choice that melts easily
- Pour hot water over the dried mushrooms and let it sit for 10-15 minutes or until they become soft
- Cook shrimp in boiling water and add the (2) bay leaves to the water
- While shrimp is cooking, drain mushrooms from water and cut into small pieces
- Keep water that mushrooms soak in because you will use it later
- When shrimp becomes pink, you will know it’s cooked.
- Remove shrimp from water and set aside to cool
- Clean shrimp from shells and cut into small pieces
- Add 1-cup of the water that mushrooms were soaking in to the water that shrimp was cooked in
- Bring water mixture to a boiling point and cook vermicelli for 5 minutes. Once it is cooked, drain from water.
- Use scissors to cut vermicelli into small pieces
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and add scallions, garlic and ginger, cook to tenderness do not brown. Add the cumin, coriander, and cayenne and cook for one minute. Then add salt and pepper and the tomatoes and sauté 2-3 minutes.
- Add mushrooms and cook a few minutes
- Add saffron and chili peppers
- Add 2 tablespoons of Cilantro
- Add shrimp
- Add vermicelli
- Transfer mixture into a bowl and let cool
- In a bowl beat 2 eggs and add the rest of the cilantro
- In a small pan add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the onions for one minute, then pour beaten egg mixture in. Be patient and let the egg set then flip it over and allow the other side to set.
Assemble the Bastilla
- Melt butter and beat 1 egg
- To assemble the Bastilla use a small circular dish to shape it.
This is a good video to watch for learning to assemble Bastilla
Note: Spring roll pastry or phyllo gets dry quickly so while working, cover it with a damp towel. If using phyllo, try keeping it covered with plastic as you work since it dries out very quickly.
Brush melted butter on each sheet of warqa or phyllo dough as you work.
- Using a round dish as a guide, overlap three or four single layers of warqa (shiny side down) – or double layers of phyllo dough – in a circular fashion, so that the inner halves of the pastry dough overlap in the center, and the excess dough drapes over the edges of the pan. (Remember to butter each layer of dough.)
- Place one buttered 12″ circle of warqa, or two 12″ buttered sheets of phyllo, in the center of the pan. This forms the bottom of the pie.
- Brush pastry with melted butter then add shrimp filing, then top with the egg and cover with cheese
- Bring each side of the pastry to the center and brush with an egg
- Add one more pastry sheet on top and brush with butter
- Place Bastilla on a greased baking sheet and brush top with egg
- Place Bastilla in Pre-heated oven to 400°
- Bastilla is done when surface is golden brown about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.