domenica 16 maggio 2010

Fish couscous my way

Hi everybody,

here I am with a recipe I tried last week.

It is based on the Sicilian "cuscus alla trapanese" recipe with some modifications (not so many actually).

The sicilian "cuscus" obviously derives from the nearly omonimous north-african couscous which is, however, prepared using meat and vegetables instead of fish.
The sicilian version acqired during the centuries peculiar aspects and it's now quite different from its supposed african "ancestor".

In my version I prefer to use the precooked couscous (in order to reduce a bit the preparation time) as well as common kind of fishes instead of the traditional ones (e.g. mullets, gurnards etc.) which are much more difficult to find and to bone.

Ingredients (4-6 portions):

1 medium-sized sea-bass (Dicentrarchus labrax - about 500g);
1 medium-sized gilt-head (Sparus aurata);
1kg vongole veraci (Tapes decussatus);
2-3 cuttlefishes (sepia officinalis);
8 big prawns (possibly raw and with their heads on)
4 garlic cloves:
1 big bunch parsley;
1 carrot, 1 minced onion and a couple of celery stalks;
1-2 bags saffron powder (about 0,6g);
800g canned tomato pulp;
1/2 glass white wine;
500g precooked couscous, salt, about 8 tablespons extra virgin olive oil.

Special tools:
1 large wok; 1 large steamer (e.g. chinese); 1 large oval steel pot.

Preparation (about two hours):

First fill the oval pot with about two litres water, add the chopped onion, the carrot, the celery stalks, some parsley leaves, two garlic cloves and some salt, add the prawn heads and their shells (save the meat for later), the dorade and the sea-bass (both gutted and scaled), put on high heat, bring to boil and then lower the heat; after about half an hour the fish should be done (the eyes should get white and slightly popped-out).
Get the fishes out of the fish stock, allow to slightly cool-down and start to remove the fish fillets.
Put the fillets in a large dish and filter about 500ml fish stock (put the stock in a bowl) we will use both the fillets and the fish stock later.

Wash the vongole and discard the broken and or empty ones.
Fill the wok with about 1 litre water, put the steamer into the wok and cover its bottom with some parsley leaves. Now add the vongole, cover the steamer and put the wok on high heat.
As soon as the vongole begin to open remove them from the steamer and put them in a large bowl.
Once you have removed all the vongole, cover them with the (filtered) stock obtained during the steaming process (they have to stay wet and soft), discard all the vongole that did not manage to open.

Carefully gut, peel and clean the cuttlefishes and cut them into stripes (about 3-4cm long, 1cm wide), chop a huge quantity of parsley.
Now take the wok, add the olive oil and two garlic cloves, put on high heat, when the garlic cloves begin to fry, add the cuttlefish stripes and the white wine, allow the wine to evaporate, then add the tomato pulp, the chopped parsley and some salt.
Allow to cook on medium heat for about 40 minutes (the cuttlefish has to be quite soft). Now add the vongole with their stock, and the raw "naked" prawns, cover the wok and remove from the stove - the prawns are supposed to cook very very shortly and to stay as soft as possible.
Warm the fish stock, add the saffron and stir gently, add the precooked couscous and let it get soft.

Serve the fish soup very hot with a generous quantity of couscous usual

Buon appetito!!!

1 commento:

  1. As for the vongole, they always contain some sand, which gets into the dish if they first open while cooking. This is quite disturbing if you still have teeth, and might spoil the dish!

    The best method of draining vongole of their sand is to let them rest in a large bowl or cooking pan full of salted water after having washed them and before using them.

    Place a plate of appropriate size turned upside down at the bottom of the bowl, put the vongole on it, and add salted water so as to cover all vongole. Count one spoon of salt per liter of water. After one hour, there should be sand at the bottom of the bowl. Change the water, and wait for one hour, then check for the sand. Repeat until no sand is drained anymore.