There is a lot to know about couscous. There are entire books written about couscous. Couscous plays such a major role in Moroccan cuisine that there is even a “couscoussier”, a two-tiered pot designated especially for this.
Couscous is actually a tiny grain that is prepared by steaming several times. In between the steaming, the couscous is allowed to rest and any clumps are carefully removed, by gently rubbing the couscous grains together by hand.
According to Paula Wolfert, who has written the bible on Moroccan cooking The Food of Morocco (available at my Amazon Affiliate Store), if you steam 1 pound of regular couscous 4 times, you end up with 18 cups of couscous. If you use instant or quick cooking couscous and moisten and steam it 3 times, you end up with between 10-12 cups. She also suggests the best brands: Ferrero, Dari, Tria and Tripiak. It was easy to find Dari Quick Cooking Couscous at World Market.
Finding the correct couscous was easy but the pot was the next challenge. Paula Wolfert suggests using a colander that fits tightly over a tall stock or pasta pot. She also suggests lining the colander with cheesecloth to make the couscous easier to handle. This is a great idea but only do this if the pot is very tall and you’re watching the stove carefully. During one of my experiments in couscous, I actually used a large sauce pot (too short) and the cheesecloth caught fire. Oops! Easy to solve: Put out the fire and the next time I used a taller pot.
No fires, just fluffy, tender, delicious couscous.
EVENT: Moroccan Feast
SERVES: 8-10 People
Couscous (It’s important to use Moroccan couscous, not Israeli couscous. These are totally different types and sizes of grain.) *
Tall pasta or stock pot
Basically, to cook couscous, you will soak the grains in water and then steam several times.
1. In a large bowl, combine equal amounts of instant couscous with warm water.
2. Set aside for 5 minutes to allow the couscous to absorb the water.
3. Fill a tall stock pot or pasta pot three quarters full. Line a colander with cheesecloth.
4. Put couscous in colander. Place colander over pot. Bring the water to a boil and steam the couscous (uncovered) for 20 minutes.
5. Use cheesecloth to remove couscous and place in a shallow pan. Add 2 cups of warm water.
6. Spread out couscous and allow it to dry 10 minutes.
7. Repeat steaming process.
8. Remove from pot and cover. It will hold for several hours.
9. Reheat over steam.
10. Toss with butter or oil, and salt and pepper.
* A NOTE: Figure 2/3 cup dry instant couscous serves 2-3 people.