Spicy Cheese Tripolitan Kaak and Salmon Cream Cheese Kaak


After touring all day with an Irish couple coming for the Taste Lebanon company I am part of and walking for more than 9.2 Kms, my family decided to go to Tripoli to the Ramadan daily special Iftar and sohour (the after midnight meal that should help you sustain an all-day fasting) that spread all over the city

PIN-Spicy Cheese Tripolitan Kaak and Salmon Cream Cheese Kaak - cookin5m2 -2027

After walking around in the old souk and Khan Al Aaskar, I was delighted by the liveliness of the city. Muslims break their fast at around 8 pm and after that, they’re out in the streets shopping and eating and drinking and playing cards in coffee shops and having a good time.

When we planned the trip, I didnt know there was a food festival taking place. The festival was labeled as Ramadan Special yet I didn’t see anything that appeared to be related to Ramadan or Tripoli. I anticipated this disappointment and set my radars on and started looking for local street food makers. I tried the Moghrabieh sandwich Tripoli is know for. I tried Halawet El Chmaysé and Kallaj. But the night’s feast was the Kaak.

Kaak is a traditional Levantine sesame bun. It is baked in special bakeries and commonly distributed as street food to be filled with zaatar or sumac or with cheese and grilled on coal to melt. The bun is thick like pita bread. Street vendors used to roam the streets with carts filled with different types of Kaak with different fillings. It was one of my ultimate pleasures when the vendor would pass by my street sounding the clown-like horn on his motorbike and I’d go out buy one and enjoy it in the morning.

Spicy Cheese Tripolitan Kaak and Salmon Cream Cheese Kaak - cookin5m2 -2018.jpg

On that night, the kaak was an experience by itself. It is a common Sohour practice in Tripoli to walk into the bakery window and ask for three pieces of kaak for 1000 L.L. then walk to the cheese vendor across the street and buy your single cheese or your favorite combination then walk back and use the tables at the bakery to slice the buns open, stuff them with the cheeses and return them to the baker to be heated and to get the cheese to melt.

The aroma of freshly baked kaak is filling the whole neighborhood. The texture is a hybrid of pita bread and sesame buns. The slightly thick bread is crunchy on the outside once well baked with soft textured insides. The cheese filling covers the whole surface in creamy stretchy goodness.

I can now say that I experienced Kaak the Tripolitan way! And it’s awesome!!!

I bought some Kaak home with me and decided to stuff them with whatever I had left in the fridge. One became a home version of a traditional kaak and the other is classical bagel filling inside a Tripolitan kaak

Spicy Cheese Tripolitan Kaak and Salmon Cream Cheese Kaak - cookin5m2 -2008.jpgSpicy Cheese Tripolitan Kaak and Salmon Cream Cheese Kaak - cookin5m2 -2044.jpg

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TINY-Spicy Cheese Tripolitan Kaak and Salmon Cream Cheese Kaak - cookin5m2 -2027Spicy Cheese Tripolitan Kaak and Salmon Cream Cheese Kaak

Serves 4 persons

Ingredients

  • 2 Lebanese Kaak
  • 100g white baladi cheese
  • 50g shredded mozzarella
  • 1 tbsp chili paste diluted in 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp cream cheese
  • 100g smoked salmon
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 3 twigs French thyme
  • Half a lemon

Procedure

  • While the kaak are soft, take a knife and slice through the bread to separate
  • For the spicy cheese mix, stir the chili paste and the olive oil to get a homogeneous mix. Spread it on the upper side of the kaak. On the other side, crumble the white cheese and spread the mozzarella on top. Turn on the oven to 160ºc and put the kaak in a tray and heat up for 10-15 minutes until the mozzarella melts
  • For the salmon kaak, slice the kaak open and spread the cream cheese equally. Take the sliced salmon and lay it equally on the top of the cheese then spread the capers and strip the thyme off their twigs. Thinly slice the lemon, quarter and arrange on top. Close kaak
  • Cut the salmon kaak and the hot cheese one into 6 pieces each and serve with some vegetables and fresh mint

Spicy Cheese Tripolitan Kaak and Salmon Cream Cheese Kaak - cookin5m2 -2033

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