Monday, May 17, 2010

Couscous tutorial

I wanted to make something new to show you today. But aside from the fact that the kitchen was a mess anyway, we had a bit of excitement with a pipe that is leaking through the ceiling in the kitchen, which soaked a pile of my homework on the table, and won't be fixed until tomorrow. Yeah.

I'm just grateful that the only casualties to the water damage besides the ceiling was the homework.

So! Because of the aforementioned excitement, I'll post something I meant to put up a week ago anyway.

I am going to show y'all how to steam couscous, without a couscousierre (which is a fancy pot used to steam couscous simultaneously with vegetables or meat). If you do have one, use this tutorial. It is lovely and has pictures.

My husband informed me a long time ago that most Americans make this tasty pasta completely wrong. His family lived in Morocco for a couple years where couscous is a common meal, and traditionally it is steamed and buttered three times. I was always like "dude!" (I call a lot of people dude) "Boiling it is so much easier!" and he was like *sadface* And then I ate couscous in Morocco and am convinced that steaming is the way to go. Boiling yields an almost polenta-like mush, but steaming makes fluffy pasta.

So I won't claim that this is necessarily authentic, but I did base my instructions on directions that my mother-in-law told me, and the Man thought it tasted good. So there you go.

I used 1 cup of couscous, and it yielded enough to serve 2 by itself, or 3 or 4 when served with tagine.

Dry couscous.

This step is optional, but it seemed to help prevent clumping later. Add 1 tsp of olive oil/ cup of dry couscous.

Stir! Traditionally you use your hands, but I used a rice paddle. It worked just fine.

Add a 1/4 cup of water/ cup of dry couscous...

And stir! It has already fluffed up quite a bit, and this will help the steam penetrate in the next step.

In the meantime, boil a few inches of water in a saucepan that you can fit a steamer or a sieve over.

Like this! A sieve this big wouldn't work with any more than a cup of couscous, and I don't own a real steamer. for small amounts, though, this worked fantastically.

steam for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Dump it out into a bowl and add 1-2 tablespoons of butter. It worked better when I melted the butter, but this was fine too.

Stir until everything is distributed. Add another 1/4 cup of water, and keep stirring.

Return the couscous to the sieve over the pot and steam for another 10-15 minutes.

Add another 1-2 tablespoons of butter to the couscous, and stir. (see? Melted. This was easier then solid butter)


I had some daylight, so here is a slightly dramatic-looking picture of the finished product.

My lovely mother-in-law says that steaming and buttering twice is usually plenty, but you can steam and butter a third time to make it extra-delicious, and to be traditional.

Here's what i put on top of it, but that will be a different post.

mmm, beef and prune tagine.

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