Cooking School – Couscous
Although often mistaken for a grain, couscous is actually pasta. Made by rolling moistened semolina wheat, it’s nutritious and very easy to prepare. The type that’s easiest to find in practically any grocery store is the tiny-grained variety. This Moroccan couscous, as it’s called, has been pre-steamed. Just like parboiled rice, it takes all of five minutes to cook through.
Couscous has no real discernible flavour of its own. So, the more flavourful the stock, the better the couscous will taste. Quick and easy, just add a pat of butter and couscous to boiling stock. Turn the heat off. Let it stand for a few minutes, fluff the grains with a fork, and serve. Couscous is a great alternative for rice, pasta or potatoes.
If you’re feeling a little adventurous, you might want to try some of the other types of couscous. The Israeli and Lebanese varieties are more or less the size of peas and need to be cooked in a pot of water (or stock), just like pasta. They will take about 30 minutes to cook.
Traditional Moroccan couscous is cooked in a special vessel called a couscoussier. Resembling a colander, it sits over a simmering pot of stew. The steam from the stew cooks and flavours the couscous. When both are done, the couscous is spooned onto a plate and the stew is ladled over it. This traditional variety takes considerably longer than five minutes to steam. Preparing it can take up to an hour. The result, however, is a very tasty and fluffy dish.