How to make couscous: The answer to the trivia question ‘is couscous a pasta?’, the answer is ‘yes!’. It is made from granules of semolina (durum wheat). You may be more familiar with these granules as the tiny yellow beads that you see on some pizzas.
Here at Pasta Nostra USA, we use these same tiny yellow beads of semolina to make our pasta. So it wasn’t too much of a stretch to start making couscous.
Couscous is a staple food of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia where it is steamed and served with stewed meats and vegetables. In France, couscous is very popular and is often served as a salad.
Many of us have become familiar with the boxes of couscous found in supermarkets that you simply steep in stock for a few minutes after which you are ready to serve it either hot or cold. Although you can steep homemade couscous (see below), it is best steamed. In fact, during preparation from scratch, it will be steamed twice before its final steam. Let’s show you how to make couscous:
How to make couscous: Serves 2 – 4
- 230 grams (1 cup) Coarse grain semolina
- 2 – 3 tablespoons All purpose flour
- Up to 120 mls (1/2 cup) cold water in a fine water spray bottle
- 2 level teaspoons Salt
- 2 teaspoons Extra virgin olive oil
- Empty the semolina into a mixing bowl with a rounded bottom.
- Spritz with water a little at a time then use your fingertips to roll the semolina around the bottom of the mixing bowl to form small pellets.
- Dust with all purpose flour occasionally to help avoid the semolina from clumping.
- Mixing may form a few large granules. Simply sieve the semolina to remove them.
- This first mixing process can take a while but be patient and only add a little water at a time. Spraying the semolina with water will help you avoid large lumps and therefore avoid the sieving process.
Prepare a steamer with boiling water. The water should not touch the semolina in the top pot of the steamer.
Pour the pellets of semolina into the steamer bowl and don’t worry about the size of the holes. They make look large but the pellets will not fall through.
Allow the semolina to steam, uncovered for 10 minutes.
Pour the steamed semolina into a mixing bowl, add the salt and separate the forming couscous with a fork while spraying with a little more water.
Add the oil and mix. When the couscous is cool enough lift some within your two hands and rub gently in circular motions. Continue to do this until you feel satisfied that you have no need to roll anymore.
Meanwhile, bring the water in the steamer pot to a boil again and without the water touching the pot holding the couscous, steam it again for a further 10 minutes.
Then pour the couscous into a mixing bowl and when cool enough, roll between the palms of your hands again. Your couscous, after the 2nd steam, should look like this:
At this stage, we allow our couscous to cool. It is then placed in airtight containers and ready for you to create wonderful couscous dishes with.
How to prepare your couscous
Once the couscous has gone through a great deal of rubbing and two steaming sessions, it has to go through one more steam or steep.
Steaming will give your couscous a firm, light texture and it will absorb the aromas of whatever is in the pot under it.
Prepare a stew or stock and bring to a simmer.
Place the couscous in a steamer pot over the stew and without it touching the stew.
Cover and cook for 10 – 15 minutes.
Alternatively you can finish off our couscous with some boiling stock in the same way you would the supermarket couscous. It will be more ‘watery’ than couscous that is steamed but if you are in a hurry, the result will be perfectly acceptable.
Bring your chosen stock to a boil.
Pour over the couscous without submerging it – 2 parts couscous to 1 part stock.
Cover and leave to steep for up to 10 minutes.