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Dying couscous to look like caviar


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Alright, I started with Dr. Pepper, went to a few other sodas, then Guinness beer, and just now carrots. I can't get the couscous to retain the color - I'm using Israeli couscous. I'm in the middle of nowhere with only one day left to figure this out. Squid ink is not an option, and I don't want to use food colorings, although a natural coloring is welcome.

I've wondered if vacuum sealing it might help.

Any ideas?

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I've got kitchen disasters surrounding me, so I went in to my tea room to calm the nerves with a bit of tea and as I was sipping away I realized - dumbshit - try tea! I've got my blackest tea on the stove right now! Cross your e-fingers for me.

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I once saw a chinese chef boil spinach. The green scum that rose to the surface was skimmed off and used to coat stir fried shrimp. If it would stick to stir fried shrimp it might stick to just about anything. I have never tried it myself. But, hey, you asked for ideas.

What about saffron. It will color anything, including my fingers when I handle it a lot.

What about making the couscous. It's not that hard. Then you can make it any color you want - from the inside.

Anyone who says I'm hard to shop for doesn't know where to buy beer.

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I'm not quite sure what that means. Is Israeli couscous not considered couscous? I'm using the large pearl couscous - similar in size to tapioca.

I'm going to try beets in a few minutes here. And Pat, while squid ink is the best option, its not available in my town which is why I'm looking for something less usual.

Thanks everyone - I'll be sure to post results...

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Instead of actually trying to dye the couscous, how about just sauteeing it in a pan and adding soy sauce like you would if you were making fried rice?

If you don't have soy sauce, Kitchen Bouquet would work, too.

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I'm not home so can't experiment but I have found blueberry syrup will dye anything and it is so dark it is almost black.

To cut the sweetness, add some of your strong tea and reduce it a bit - I might be tempted to try it with some lapsong souchong for a smoky flavor.

I have dyed Israeli couscous with saffron after the soaking and steaming.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett


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Not to beat a dead horse here, but tapioca pearls are just so pretty. They look very very much like real fish roe and they just soak up color. A dash of soy sauce, some rice vinegar and a little sugar and you get a nice smoky red/brown color and excellent taste and texture.

Edited by TheSwede (log)
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how about balsamic vinegar - - I have taken the cheap stuff (gallon) add some sugar and reduce it - then add it - have turned rice very dark - should work - but I did not see if you wanted a flavor and the flavor profile may be way off

Edited by Jakea222 (log)
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Okay, I'm out of time for trial runs so since TheSwede's horse is deader than a doornail, I'm going to do tapioca - I could only get small pearl. And I'm going to cook it in beet juice. I think your idea of soy and rice vinegar would be nice. Thanks again. I'll be sure to post and let you know how it turned out.

And to explain - squid ink is not available anywhere within 3 hours from here, so that's just not an option. Its not as if I am an anti-squid bigot or something :unsure:

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When I have used tapioca pearls, I've first cooked them the normal way in water and then let them steep for a couple of hours in whatever flavouring/coloring I wanted.

That way they end up translucent with a tint of the color used.

Cooking them directly in eg beet juice will work of course, but will probably result in a very intense deep purple/black color.

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When I have used tapioca pearls, I've first cooked them the normal  way in water and then let them steep for a couple of hours in whatever flavouring/coloring I wanted.

That way they end up translucent with a tint of the color used.

Cooking them directly in eg beet juice will work of course, but will probably result in a very intense deep purple/black color.

and also extremely starchy/glutinous

the pre/par-cook (they can have a small opaque center to them) in water is the best, then rinse and finish cooking in whatever color/flavor you want them to retain

Edited by alanamoana (log)
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Are you purposefully trying to keep the dish vegan? Is that why squid ink won't work? Or is it just that you don't have any?

A quick Googling reveals there are many types of vegetarian/vegan caviar available.

Seems a whole lot easier than trying to dye the couscous... :unsure:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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