Seafood Mousseline Borek

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Appears in

Food of the Sun: A Fresh Look at Mediterranean Cooking

Food of the Sun

By Alastair Little and Richard Whittington

Published 1995

  • About

Börek - deep-fried filo pastry parcels - are a universal part of eating out in the Middle East and Turkey. In their usual minced meat or cheese versions they can be quite heavy and unsubtle, but these are altogether lighter and - with their luxurious filling of crab, prawn and whiting - have elegance as well as substance. They are baked in the oven rather than deep-fried.

The mousseline is a construction of classic French cuisine, where it forms the basis for quenelles — feather-light fish dumplings - but, since the filling does not have to expand in the same way, it uses fewer egg whites than usual. Puréeing the crab and half the prawns gives body to the filling and helps hold it together.

The traditional method of making a mousseline by hand involves lengthy preparation, and temperature is critical - if the mixture is not to separate it must be beaten over ice. The food processor is entirely more forgiving and makes the whole procedure quick and easy.

Whiting makes an ideal base, but you could also use hake, sole or monkfish. Everything should be as cold as possible. Try chilling the processor bowl in the freezer or put all the ingredients except the cream into the bowl and put it in the refrigerator for an hour before making the mousseline. Only take the cream from the refrigerator when you are ready to begin.


  • 225 g/8 oz raw prawns
  • 2 shallots
  • 8 pistachio nuts
  • handful of coriander leaves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • 225 g/8 oz skinned whiting fillets
  • 225 g/8 oz white crab meat
  • whites of 2 size-2 eggs
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano leaves (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 500 ml/16 fl oz (double) cream
  • 450 g/1 lb filo pastry
  • 55 g/2 oz butter
  • lemons, to serve



Peel the prawns and devein them, then rinse in cold water. Peel the shallots and cut into small dice. Shell and finely chop the pistachios. Destalk the coriander leaves.

Toast the cumin, coriander seeds and peppercorns in a dry heavy pan over a low heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring. Remove from the heat, cool and grind to a powder.

To make the stuffing: chop the whiting into pieces and put in the food processor. Chop the prawns and put half of them in with the whiting. Add the crab meat, shallots, spices, egg whites, coriander, oregano leaves if using, and salt. Process to a smooth paste.

With the machine working at full speed, pour the cream in through the feeder tube in a thin stream until incorporated. Scrape out into a glass bowl and stir in the remaining pieces of prawn and the chopped pistachios. Pack down, cover with film and chill for up to 4 hours, or until you are ready to make the börek.

To make the börek: remove the filo from its box and cover with a slightly damp cloth. Taking one sheet at a time, cut it across in half and put a dessertspoon of mousseline on each half and fold and wrap as described. Do not overfill or the package may leak.


Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas5.

Melt the butter and brush the böreks with it. Place them on a baking sheet, not touching each other. Bake for 20—25 minutes, until the parcels are crisp and golden brown.


Serve hot with wedges of lemon. They are also nice warm or at room temperature.


This is rather a grand and expensive mixture, but you can dispense with either the crab meat or the prawns, increasing the percentage of white fish, and still end up with a very good result. Alternatively, you could move the dish even further up market by incorporating lobster meat into the mix.

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