Sicilian Fish Couscous

, from Issue #29. September, 2015
Photography by Aaron McLean.
Sicilian Fish Couscous

This is one of the best culinary legacies from North Africa’s domination of Sicily, and as with paella or risotto, there are dozens of variations.

Serves: 4-6


700 grams firm, white fish fillets

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 medium celery stalk, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
pinch of chilli flakes
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
½ cup white wine
½ cup fish or chicken stock
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
1/3 cup caper berries

1¼ cups instant couscous (I used Tipiak brand)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
finely grated zest 1 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground pepper
1¼ cups chicken stock or water, boiling
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley


Sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the onion, celery, garlic, chilli flakes and cumin seeds, season, cover and cook until the onion is tender. Uncover, increase the heat and pour in the wine. Let the mixture bubble up for 1 minute then add the stock, tomatoes and caper berries and bring back to the boil. Cut the fish into 8 cm pieces, season and place in the sauce. Cover and cook over a low heat until the fish is just cooked through.

Couscous: Put the couscous, cinnamon, lemon zest, olive oil, sea salt and a grind of pepper in a heat-proof bowl and pour on the boiling stock. Stir, then cover tightly with plastic wrap. Leave for 10 minutes then fluff up with a fork and stir in the flat-leaf parsley.

To serve: Place a mound of couscous in shallow serving bowls. Place a piece of fish on top then spoon the remaining fish and sauce around the couscous.