The Arab dish of couscous is very popular in eastern Sicily where housewives prepare it regularly and therefore have all the correct equipment. They start by making the couscous itself, which is then steamed and served with a delicious fish stew, which is also called couscous. You can buy dried North African couscous ready-made and this will need the same long cooking time. If you use
Mix the semolinas together very carefully. Dissolve the saffron in hot water, then put
Go through all the semolina this way, a small amount at a time with a little bright yellow saffron water. Leave it spread out like this to dry out.
Pour the stock or water into a pan and put a large metal colander on top. Wrap a cloth around the colander where it meets the top of the pot so as not to lose any of the steam in the next stage of cooking.
Tip the granular couscous into the colander and pour the olive oil over it. Mix together with your hands and then lay a heavy clean cloth on top of the grains and a lid on top of that. Bring the liquid to the boil and let it boil very slowly, for 1½ hours so the couscous cooks in the steam coming through the holes of the colander.
After about 1 hour, start the fish stew. Fry the garlic and the oil in a large pan or flameproof casserole with the parsley and onion for about 3 minutes, then add the bay leaf and tomatoes. Cook for about 5 – 6 minutes, then add all the fish and season with salt and pepper. Add about
When the couscous is ready, tip it into a bowl, sprinkle about
When the fish is ready, scoop out the pieces with a slotted spoon and keep in a warm place. Pour the fish broth through a strainer – there should be about
After an hour, dress the couscous with the pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg and a little of the reserved fish broth. Arrange the hot fish on top and serve at once.
© 1995 Valentina Harris. All rights reserved.