The fish fillets are steamed on top of the couscous in this dish so all the lovely cooking juices are soaked up, making the already spicy, herby couscous even tastier. This recipe was first published in full on the blog Food Lust People Love for a Sunday Supper recipe event. We are pleased to share it with you here for Weekday Supper.
This spicy dish is adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe from a series called Oliver’s Twist. I’ve been making it regularly since 2003 when the episode Flash in the Pan first aired. It’s perfect if you are trying to cook healthier in the New Year, with lots of flavor from the spices and cilantro and very healthy steamed fish on top.
- 1½ teaspoons flakey sea salt (I use Maldon.)
- 1½ teaspoons fennel seeds
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 1 (2-inch or 2.5cm) piece cinnamon stick
- 2 cups or 370g wheat couscous – medium grain
- 1 small onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 red chilies (Remove the seeds for less heat.)
- 1 large bunch cilantro or fresh coriander, leaves picked, stalks finely sliced
- Four portion size filets of a relatively thin white fish like sole or flounder. Cod will do if it is not too thick.
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper for seasoning fish
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Couple of handfuls cherry tomatoes (more or less to your taste)
- 1 large lemon, cut in half at the equator
- Optional: another lemon cut in wedges for serving.
- Put the couscous in a bowl with enough hot - but not quite boiling - water to cover it. Seal the top of the bowl with cling film and then drape a towel over the top and set aside for at least 10 minutes. Laissez gonfler!
- The couscous will soften and double in size. When it's done, fluff it with a fork and keep covered till needed.
- Make your spice mix by pounding the salt, fennel and cumin seeds, coriander seeds and cinnamon together in your mortar. (If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can use already ground spices.)
- Mince your onion and one chili pepper. Slice the garlic and the other chili.
- Cut the very tough bottom parts of your cilantro stems off and discard. Finely chop the rest of the stems up to the leafy part and then roughly chop the leaves. Some leaves are going to get in your stems and, of course, your leaf pile will have the most tender stems, and that’s okay.
- Lay your fish out on a plate and season both sides with salt and pepper
- Heat a large saucepan on a low heat, and sauté the onion, garlic, cilantro stems and chopped chili in a good drizzle of olive oil.
- Add the spice mix to the pan with another drizzle of olive oil.
- Cook for a few minutes and then add the butter. Let it melt then add the couscous.
- Mix thoroughly with the spices and sautéed seasonings. Stir in most of the cilantro leaves, reserving some for garnish when serving.
- Turn the stove down to a very low heat, and lay the fish fillets on top of the couscous. Drizzle with olive oil and tuck the lemon halves, cut side up, and the whole cherry tomatoes in the couscous.
- Cover with some foil or a tight fitting lid, and cook for 15 minutes or until the fish is white through and flaky. You may need to add just a little bit of water so that the couscous doesn’t burn on the bottom, so do check it about halfway through. A very heavy pan or a diffuser will help with this problem.
- To serve, sprinkle with the remaining cilantro and sliced chili, squeeze the cooked lemon halves over everything and drizzle on some more olive oil. Divide the couscous between four plates and top each with a steamed fish fillet. Serve with additional wedges of lemon, if desired.
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