Cookbook | Recipes | Ingredients | Basic foodstuffs | Cereal

Couscous is a tiny pasta-like food made from semolina.[1]

Characteristics edit

Moroccan couscous edit

The couscous grains are made from semolina or, in some regions, from coarsely ground barley or millet. The semolina is sprinkled with water and rolled with the hands to form small pellets, sprinkled with dry semolina to keep the pellets separate, and then sieved.[1][2] The pellets small enough to be finished grains of couscous fall through the sieve, and the rest are again sprinkled with semolina and rolled into smaller pellets.[3] This process continues until all the semolina has been formed into tiny grains of couscous about 1–2 mm across, at which point the couscous is dried.[3] The couscous can be precooked and dried to make instant couscous. When cooked, couscous has a texture somewhere between American grits and Italian risotto.

Pearl couscous

Pearl couscous edit

Another variety, known as pearl couscous, Israeli couscous, or p'titim, is shaped like small pearls, about the size of a rice grain or orzo.[1][2]

Selection and storage edit

Make sure to choose the correct kind of couscous for your dish. It should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature, where it will last months to years if kept dry.

Preparation edit

Traditional couscous has to be steamed rather than boiled to prevent the grains sticking together. This is done by hydrating it with some cold water, followed by two to three uncovered steaming steps in a colander or specialized couscoussier.[2] Here, the base is a tall metal pot shaped rather like an oil jar in which the meat and vegetables are cooked in a stew. On top of the base a steamer sits where the couscous is cooked, absorbing the flavours from the stew.[3] The couscous must be tossed and fluffed between the steaming steps in order to maintain its fluffy texture.[2][3]

Instant couscous is much faster—it is prepared by combining equal volumes of couscous and boiling water, then soaked for a handful of minutes until the water is absorbed and the grains swell.[2][4] However, the texture is not as fluffy as that from the traditional steaming method.

Use edit

Traditional couscous is traditionally served under a meat or vegetable stew, somewhat like rice is.[1][3] The dish is the primary staple food throughout the Maghreb, and it is also popular in the West African sahel, in France, and parts of the Middle East. Pearl couscous is usually boiled and is often used in cold salads.[1] There are recipes from Brazil that use boiled couscous molded into timbale with other ingredients.

Recipes edit

References edit

  1. a b c d e Labensky, Sarah R.; Hause, Alan M.; Martel, Priscilla (2018-01-18). On Cooking: A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals. Pearson. ISBN 978-0-13-444190-0.
  2. a b c d e "Learn All About Couscous and the Many Ways to Enjoy It". The Spruce Eats. Retrieved 2024-05-02.
  3. a b c d e Davidson, Alan (2014-01-01). Jaine, Tom (ed.). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acref/9780199677337.001.0001. ISBN 978-0-19-967733-7.
  4. Gisslen, Wayne (2014-04-15). Professional Cooking. Wiley. ISBN 978-1-118-63672-5.