Cuscus – Cuscus

The cuscus is a specialty from Trapani, of Arabic origin. Unlike the African cuscus, which features vegetables and mutton, the Sicilian one is with fish, though still maintaining the same base of superfine flour kneaded (” incocciata”) with water. There are a number of variations in the whole province, from the one with cauliflower to that with pork meat or with snails.

Ingredients for 4 servings

  • 1 lbs. semolina of durum wheat
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • fresh parsley 1 bu.
  • 1 big onion
  • 1 heart of celery with leaves
  • bay leaves
  • 2 lbs. of assorted fish for soup
  • (among which scorpion fish,ieces of eel and, 1/2 head of rouper)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lbs. slices of grouper and dentex fish
  • 14 oz. of scampi
  • 1 lbs. of mussels
  • dry white wine
  • 2 spoons tomato paste
  • 2 oz. peeled
  • almonds
  • salt
  • pepper TT

Sprinkle the semolina in a “mafaradda” (terracotta bowl with flared sides) with a little salty water and knead (“incocciata”) with a slow and circular movement. Transfer the semolina to a clean towel and let dry, for at least a couple of hours. Brown the shredded onion, celery and parsley in a saucepan with oil; add the concrentrated tomato dissolved in abundant warm water, a pinch of salt, a dash of pepper and simmer for about ten minutes. Add the fish and the finely chopped garlic and almons and cook. As soon as the semolina has dried up, trickle with oil, coat well with both hands to absorb the seasonings, flavor with minced garlic, onion and an abundant dusting of pepper. Transfer all to the cuscusiera ( special saucepan of earthenware with holes, replaceable with a colander of the same diameter of the pot on which it must be fitted), in which will have put the bay leaves covering the holes. Put the colander on the pot with the fish soup and seal the edges of the two containers, wrapping around a cloth previously dampened and rubbed in flour where the containers meet to prevent the dispersion of steam. Cook, partially covered, for about 1 hour. Transfer the cuscus to the “mafaradda”; trickle with part of the broth strained from the soup ( in which you have let the fish flake, to have a thicker and tastier broth) and let rest, for about 5 hours, under a wool blanket. Boil the remaining soup and add the mussels (first open shells, boiling the mussels at high heat in another saucepan) the prawns and the pieces of fish and serve the soup with the cuscus, straining a part of the broth, which can be added according to tast

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