Couscous de Soles
I get bored easily. Many people I know love the comfort of driving on the same roads to reach a well-visited destination. I sometimes take a new road when I'm not in a hurry, and get myself horribly lost - until I put on the GPS again. This way I discover new parts of Modena, I am reminded that like in our lives, there are many parallel itineraries, many different ways to reach the same or similar places. This morning, at one point, I reached a crossroad and had absolutely no idea whether I should turn right or left. But I didn't hesitate, I turned right and then put on my GPS. Surprisingly, it didn't ask me to make a U-Turn.
Coming back from my weekly grocery shopping, I decided to prepare dinner in advance. This evening, we will have a Couscous de Soles. A simple couscous in vegetable and fish broth served with pan-fried lightly-floured Sole fish filets (à la meunière). Catholics eat fish on Fridays. We eat fish on Tuesdays.
Couscous de Soles :
The Soles :
500g Sole Fish filets
Fennel seeds (optional)
The Couscous broth :
5 Garlic cloves
1 piece Ginger
1 Celery stalk
1 Fennel bulb
1 Red Pepper
1 Yellow Pepper
2-3 fresh green or red Chillies
1 small tin of Chickpeas
7-8 Cherry Tomatoes
1 small tin chopped Tomatoes or 3 Tbsp concentrated Tomato paste
1 Cinnamon bark
2 Tsp ground Cumin
6 whole Cloves
1 Tbsp Ras al Hanout
Harissa to taste
Fresh Coriander leaves
Add salt (and eventually fennel seeds) to the flour and lightly flour the cleaned and dried sole filets. Heat up some olive oil or butter in a non-stick frying pan and fry the filets on both sides. Be gentle so as not to break them. Drain on kitchen towels and set aside.
Prick the onion with the whole cloves. Heat up some olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot and fry the garlic, ginger, cinnamon bark, cumin and ras al hanout till aromatic. Add the onion, celery, fresh chillies, fennel bulb and raw vegetables chopped into large pieces.
Stir in the tins of chickpeas and tomatoes. Pour in the hot fish broth - enough to cover the vegetables in the pot.
Cover and simmer for 45 minutes or till the vegetables are cooked. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Prepare the couscous grains by putting them in a bowl together with some salt. Add hot water and let the grains soak in it. I use one cup of hot water for one cup of couscous. Then just before serving, microwave the grains for 2 minutes, take out, add butter and fluff the grains immediately.
Serve together with the vegetable and fish broth and pan-fried sole filets. Squeeze lemon juice over the fish and add harissa to the broth if desired. You could also simply cook your sole fish in the broth instead of frying it, but trust me, the crispy and tender sole fish filets à la meunière provide a nice contrast to the broth and couscous.