Couscous alla Trapanese

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Hailing from Sicily, but with historical roots dating back to North Africa, this Trapani specialty is topped with fish and other shellfish, and served with an intensely rich fish broth that is seasoned with cinnamon, bay leaf and almonds. Although Sicilian locals insist on using handmade couscous (a process that takes a few hours and requires special equipment, but can be done!), You can achieve a similar result with the simple boxed variety. —Kristy Mucci

  • 17 ounces

    couscous in box

  • 2

    bay leaves

  • one

    cinnamon stick

  • 10

    garlic cloves, crushed (plus 2, unpeeled)

  • 2

    chopped onions (plus 1, cut in half)

  • 1/4 cup

    extra virgin olive oil

  • 2

    large celery stalks, chopped

  • one

    small parsley, whole, with a small amount reserved and chopped for garnish

  • 1/2 cup

    rolled almonds

  • 1 pound

    fresh tomatoes, peeled

  • 4 cups


  • 1/2 pound

    large shrimp from the front, heads and bodies separated

  • 2 pounds

    Mixed fish and shellfish, such as snapper, sea bass, squid, and mussels

  • Red pepper flakes, to taste

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Lemon, for garnish, if desired

  1. Cook the couscous along with the bay leaves, cinnamon, 2 cloves of unpeeled garlic and 1 onion in half, according to the package directions. Once cooked, remove the bay leaves, cinnamon, garlic, and onion, and set aside.

  2. While the couscous is steaming, prepare the fish stock: In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onions and the crushed garlic cloves, cook until soft, about 3 minutes.

  3. Add the sliced ​​almonds and peeled tomatoes, cook until the tomato begins to soften, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add water, red pepper, salt, pepper and shrimp heads and bodies, and bring to a boil.

  4. Reduce heat to low and cook until tomatoes are completely rotted, about an hour. Add the remaining fish and shellfish, and simmer until well cooked, about 10 minutes.

  5. Transfer fish and shellfish to a separate plate. Strain the fish stock. Pour 3 tablespoons of fish broth over the couscous and let stand, covered, for an hour before serving.

  6. Serve the couscous topped with the cooked fish, garnished with chopped parsley and lemon, and with the strained fish broth aside (to pour over the entire dish, as desired).


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