This much-requested Square One dish evolved from a combination of recipes. It either comes from North Africa via Sicily or the other way around. At first we called it Cuscusu Trapanese but realized after a while that this dish was much too spicy and North African in spirit to be a true Sicilian fish couscous. Paula Wolfert suggested a compromise—a couscous from Pantelleria, an island between Sicily and North Africa. Geography may be destiny, but our customers don’t seem to care what we call this fish ragout. They just keep requesting it, and we keep cooking it because we enjoy receiving compliments.
The cuscusu may be presented as a brothy soup with a few pieces of fish and a generous spoonful of steamed couscous, or it may be served as a fish ragout with just enough sauce to moisten the couscous and the fish.