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Seafood Couscous

Serves 6. Takes 2 and half hours.

We’ve tasted great versions of seafood couscous in both our favourite local restaurant, Numidie (see Links), and in Morocco, but finally we have found and adapted a really great recipe for our own kitchen. The stock takes 2 hours to make, but freezes well, and could be make in large batches, and the whole thing is easily scaled up or down according to how many people are eating.  Use the cheapest reasonable quality white fish available for the stock

It is lovely to cook in winter because it has a  summery by-the-sea smell to it. The original recipe suggests serving the couscous with prawns, but  feel free to add small chunks of pan fried white fish, scallops or... well, whatever you fancy!

To serve

2-3 tbsp olive oil

26 large, raw unpeeled prawns and/or chunks of good quality pan fryable white fish or 6 decent sized scallops split horizontally

For the stock

80ml light olive oil

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped (optional)

1 large onion sliced

500ml tomato passata

1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp freshly grated white pepper

1 bay leaf

50ml dry white wine

1.5kg mixed white fish cut into large chunks

2 large prawns or handful of frozen small ones

2 tablespoons of finely chopped parsley stalks

Whole hot red chilli, pierced

For the couscous

5 tbsps olive oil

3 fresh bay leaves

400g quick cook couscous

3 shallots, finely chopped

Half tsp freshly grated nutmeg

2 tbsps chopped flat leaf parsley

1 tsp freshly ground white pepper

  • For the stock
  • Heat the oil in a large pan or wok. Add onions, garlic, and parsley stalks.  Cook gently for 5-6 mins. Add nutmeg, passata, bay leaf, white wine, chilli, white pepper, 450ml water and 1 tsp of salt
  • Bring to the boil, and add the mixed white fish and 2 of the prawns. Simmer partly covered for 2 hours
  • Strain the stock through a fine sieve, getting as much liquid  as you can from the mix. Set aside the liquid. Discard or give the fishy remains in the sieve to the cat. Set the stock aside
  • For the couscous
  • Preheat oven to 150C/Gas mark 3
  • Fry the shallots until melting and golden
  • Put couscous in a large casserole dish, add 400 ml of boiling  water, the bay leaves, and 2 tbsps of olive oil and a tsp of salt. Cover and set aside for 5 minutes
  • Uncover couscous and fluff up with a fork. Add the shallots along with nutmeg, parsley, pepper and a good pinch of salt, and about 200ml of the fish stock.  Bake in oven with a lid or foil covering for 15 minutes. Warm up the fish stock.
  • Fry pan fryable fish, scallops and/or prawns
  • Add 350ml of the fish stock to the couscous. Allow a few seconds to absorb, and scatter with chopped parsley and perhaps more pepper and salt or soy sauce.  Serve with prawns and/or fried fish or scallops and rocket. Any extra fish stock can be served separately in a jug