Cheese Sambousek – Crispy, chewy Middle Eastern cheese rolls filled with herbed Egyptian white cheese and mozzarella.
Sambousek is a Middle Eastern, savory, filled pastry, usually deep fried, that comes in varying shapes from half-moons to triangles to cigar shapes. There are many different variations of fillings for sambousek, two of the most popular are ground beef and cheese. Cheese Sambousek are a popular item on a mezza table and during special occasions. They are also enjoyed with a glass of mint tea for an afternoon snack.
My favorite filling is an Egyptian Istanbuli or Domyati cheese mixed with mozzarella to balance the saltiness and to provide a luxurious texture. Fresh herbs, I’ve used parsley and mint, add a wonderful freshness to the Cheese Sambousek. There are many different ways to wrap the pastries. I have a delicious homemade pastry that I use for half-moon shaped meat sambousek. In Middle Eastern groceries you will find various wrappers. Phyllo is a common wrapper as well. For the Cheese Sambousek, my favorite is an eggroll wrapper which gives a sturdy chewiness and pleasing mouthfeel to the roll. It is also stronger than the homemade pastry which helps to keep the melted cheese filling in when frying.
Istanbuli and Domyati, are mild, pickled Egyptian white cheeses made from cow or buffalo milk that are soft and creamy and crumbly. Delightfully salty and tangy, Egyptian white cheese packs a lot of flavor. It is similar in taste and texture to feta, however the salt is added directly to the milk before the rennet is added. Egyptian white cheese can be found in Middle Eastern groceries. If you can’t find it, a salty, creamy feta makes a delicious and very comparable substitution. Danish feta is creamier and saltier like Egyptian white cheese than Greek feta.
Because the Egyptian white cheese is so salty, I have mixed with mozzarella cheese in a ratio of 2 to 3. Taste the mix before you add the egg and adjust the ratio to your taste.
Roll up the eggroll wrapper as illustrated below, brushing the top of the wrapper with water to help it stick. Don’t roll them too tightly or they will burst open when frying and the melted cheese will ooze out into the cooking oil.
Cheese Sambousek are deep fried to a golden brown and served hot while the cheese is gooey and melty.
- 20 eggroll wrappers
- 200 grams Egyptian white cheese – Domyati or Istanbuli (7oz)
- 300 grams shredded mozzarella (10.6oz)
- 1 egg
- 1 handful parsley, chopped
- 1 handful mint, chopped
- vegetable oil for deep frying
- Process cheeses and egg in food processor til well combined.
- Add chopped parsley and mint and pulse a few times until distributed.
- Roll up eggroll style in wrappers as in photo above, brushing end with water.
- Deep fry in 350 degree F oil until golden.