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couscous


zeitoun
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It's not just me that likes butter. It's the Algerian way of steaming and seasoning semolina couscous. My wife prefers less butter than I do. But she made it the way I like it, for once. :hmmm::wink:

More or less butter or olive oil... to taste. :smile:

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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Actually there really isn't that much butter in the couscous. A 500 gram box will serve 6-8 depending on the number of courses. As per ChefZadi's recipe if a stick of butter is used that comes out to about 1 tablespooon or a bit more per serving.

I think that semolina complements and "intensifies" the flavor and aroma of butter. I suppose simple grains and starches do that in general, such as potatoes, rice and bread. But durum wheat pasta and couscous seem to heighten the aroma of butter the most.

Has anyone else noticed this? :unsure: Or is it just me? :biggrin:

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I have noticed that as well.

I would like to plagiarize from one of my own cookbooks and share a story with you. It concerns substituting milk for cold water in order to enhance the flavor of semolina couscous.

"Back in the late seventies, the great American food writer James Beard asked to visit me in my home in New York to interview me for an article he was writing about Moroccan couscous.

At that time I'd published only two books. Excited about Mr. Beard's impending visit, I wanted very much to present him with a new and exciting couscous dish that wasn't in either of my books.

I called an old friend, the Moroccan ambassdor Abselam Jaidi, who suggested I speak to his wife. She told me that on a recent trip back to Morocco she and Abselam had eaten one of the most delicious couscous dishes of their lives. She had no idea how it was made, but promised to try and find out. Days passed.

No word came from Mrs. Jaidi, perhaps she'd forgotten or had been unable to unearth the secret.

Since it was late spring, I decided to make a slightly new version of the Berber couscous in my book, and went off to buy the ingredients. The night before Beard's visit, Mrs. Jaidi called. She had the secret.!

Milk! All I had to do, she said, was toss the couscous with milk instead of water after thefirst steaming, and the couscous flavor would come alive.

I knew Berbers sometimes added milk to their cosucous sauce, but was worried that wetting the couscous down with milk would causee it to lose its fluffiness. So I decided to make my Berber couscous in two batches, the first the traditional way, the second utilizing the "secret."

I couldn't get over the difference, and neither could Mr. Beard. We agreed that the additon of milk really made the couscous "sing." I've made my spring couscous this way ever since."

---Mediterranean Grains and Greens, 1998.

Sinc

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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Sorry if I am not understanding this, but is milk being also introduced as a substitute for butter? Or can butter (in addition to milk soaking) still be utilized as shown in Chefzadi's recipe?

"A chicken is just an egg's way of making another egg." Samuel Butler
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quote from touragand:

I think that semolina complements and "intensifies" the flavor and aroma of butter. I suppose simple grains and starches do that in general, such as potatoes, rice and bread. But durum wheat pasta and couscous seem to heighten the aroma of butter the most.

touaregsand Posted Today, 08:46 AM

Zeitoun: I was responding to the above query by touraregsand ..I think it is the other way around that milk products enhance the flavor of semolina.

(Hungarians claim that the best spaetzle is made when it is cooked in milk!)

I have many ways to cook couscous but when I made it with milk for the first time I did the following:

For 1 1/2 pounds semolina couscous, I steamed the dampened couscous for about 25 to 30 minutes over boiling water

I then dumped it into a roomy pan and GRADUALLY sprinkled on about 2 cups cold milk. Then with a long fork or a wide long whisk, I broke up any lumps. I sprinkled on about 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and left the grains to rest while raking them from time to time .anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes.

I didn't but I could have steamed them again, then used cold water to douse the couscous and left the grains to settle down while raking from time to time.

About 45 minutes before serving, I steamed the couscous again but this time for 30 minutes. Then used about 2 cups broth and 1/4 cup butter to moisten the couscous. After tossing lightly with a whisk or long pronged fork, I covered the couscous and let it rest about 10 minutes before serving with the sauce and vegetables.

Note: when I roll my own couscous, I steam it three times.

Edited by Wolfert (log)

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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  • 3 weeks later...

A Tunisian friend of mine was kind enough to make couscous. I didn't take a photo because it did not travel well in terms of appearance. As soon I made that decision I ate it all, so too late. :raz:

It was a "typical" Tunisian version in certain ways.

The ingredients were beef shank, potatoes, carrots, pearl onions and chickepeas. The carrots were cut into 3" pieces and halved (note I cut mine into 2 1/2" pieces and quarter them), he used red potatoes and halved them. Not alot of spices in this version for some reason.

Presentation is very different from typical Algerian plating. He took the broth and moistened the semolina couscous with it, making it quite red and laid the other ingredients on top. He also did not butter his couscous, olive oil instead.

EDIT: He also added leeks.

Edited by chefzadi (log)

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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having contributed a ortion of my income to

Kalustyans, I now own a bag @ of Israeli and

Lebanese couscous. The latter is a significantly

larger grain. I tried making these according to

the bag's directions which essentially mean

boiling. They were quite mushy. Is there another

way?

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having contributed a ortion of my income to

Kalustyans, I now own a bag @ of Israeli and

Lebanese couscous. The latter is a significantly

larger grain. I tried making these according to

the bag's directions which essentially mean

boiling. They were quite mushy. Is there another

way?

I think cooking maghrebya was discussed upthread.

My first thought is that you boiled them too long.

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  • 6 months later...

i made some buttered twice-steamed couscous the night before and it was good to be literally eaten on its own, and i didn't even use a lot of butter, maybe just a tablespoon for two servings. Added a stick of cinnamon and several brunches of thyme to the steaming water.

Incidentally there is a nice article on the subject in today's LAT: Marrakesh express

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The Algerians have a French flair for presentation. That's just the way history happened.

Dude I just noticed you actually wrote this. True to a certain extent, but you know better.... maybe you were tired. :wink:

Helenas, yes, when it's steamed properly it is good enough to be eaten alone and it often is.

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Here's my digest entry on the couscous article in the LA Times (5 Oct. 2005): Marrakesh express / by Charles Perry

Couscous done right (think steam) opens up a world of delicious possibilities. These possibilities are explained by several couscous notables, including Adel Chagar of Chameau restaurant,  Michel Ohayon of Koutoubia in Westwood and, of course, Paula Wolfert ...

Includes three recipes: Couscous with seven vegetables; Lamb tagine; Steamed couscous 

The article makes it clear: Steam the couscous!

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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  • 1 year later...

I just bought a traditional Thai rice steamer, the sort with the metal pot and the large basket. It looks like the one pictured here.

Think I could use it as a couscousier, too? Cook a stew in the pot and steam couscous in that basket above? And if I do, should I line the basket with cheesecloth the way you're supposed to when steaming Thai sticky rice in it?

My thoughts are yes and yes, and as soon as I get a chance I'm going to give it a try. I just wanted to see if anyone else had any thoughts on or experience with this.

Thanks!

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I just bought a traditional Thai rice steamer, the sort with the metal pot and the large basket. It looks like the one pictured here.

Think I could use it as a couscousier, too? Cook a stew in the pot and steam couscous in that basket above? And if I do, should I line the basket with cheesecloth the way you're supposed to when steaming Thai sticky rice in it?

My thoughts are yes and yes, and as soon as I get a chance I'm going to give it a try. I just wanted to see if anyone else had any thoughts on or experience with this.

Thanks!

My only concern would be that if the tagine splatters, then it might ruin the basket. I would be interested in seeing your experiment.

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  • 9 months later...

Does anyone have a reliable source for barley couscous in the US? I love the stuff but can't find it anywhere. Thanks.

"As far as I'm concerned, bacon comes from a magical, happy place" Frank, John Doe

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  • 1 year later...
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