Low50 min6-8 ServesLow


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Fish couscous, also known as couscous alla trapanese, is a traditional dish from Sicily and, in particular, from the province of Trapani. This dish has North African-influences and it can be found in different versions, according to the different seaside cities in which it is made: Mazara, Selinunte, Marsala up to San Vito Lo Capo (home of the cous cous fest which takes place every year in September), and finally, Trapani, the city that then gave its name to this dish.

The couscous alla trapanese of Maghrebi inspiration comes from the encounters of two different cultures: the Sicilian culture where fish is the predominant element and the Maghreb culture which exported the flavors and scents from North Africa to Sicily. A popular and poor people’s dish, fish couscous used to be prepared by the fishermen’s wives with unsold fish or fish scraps.

Soup fish IngredientsQuantity
Grouper head1
Red scorpionfish1
Red porgy/ seabream1
Peeled pink shrimps1kg
Vegetables IngredientsQuantity
Tomato paste3/4 tablespoons
Flaked almonds100gr
Garlic3/5 cloves
Leaf1 bay
Saffron and red pepperAccording to taste

Preparation method

Clean and scale the fish, shell the shrimps and prepare the broth by first browning the onions, carrot, celery and garlic in olive oil.

Then add the fish and a glass of white wine. Sauté for 5 minutes, and add 1 to 1.5 l of water. The fish broth must be cooked at medium temperature for at least 40/50 minutes. Once the broth is ready, add the tomato paste, saffron and chili.

Use a part of the broth to cook the couscous (it is possible to buy it already precooked to speed up times). Steam the couscous in the “couscusiera” or put it in a terracotta pan with salt and a knob of butter, slowly pouring in the hot fish broth. In 4-5 minutes the couscous will be cooked and ready to serve on the table. Add the flaked almonds and parsley leaves.

Bring the Trapani-style fish couscous to the table in a terracotta pan, pour it onto the plates and add the fish soup.

In Sicily, couscous is often accompanied by harissa, a spicy sauce of Tunisian origin, made from chili, olive oil, garlic, coriander, cumin and ginger.

Buon appetite!

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