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This recipe should really have the same success and followers than the hyper celebrated French Bouillabaisse. Both have the origin in poverty. This where recipes that the fishermen would prepare with the unsold fish or and fish remains. The original cuscus recipe was even prepared with the heads of fishes. This is why than the sauce was filtered with a cloth. As Bouillabaisse nowadays is more famous i have even seen it prepared at chique restaurants with lobster.
When i was young i had the chance to work during the summer on a fisherman boat. I was camping with friends and i finished the money in less than one week. The place was nice and so i just started to ask for work. From the fishermen I learned a lot especially that only one part of the fish that can be eaten is sold. When we where coming back to the port there where restaurants owners that would buy the most requested fishes, but also poor people who would get less noble kinds of fish for free. I was used to eat this fishes also with the fishermen. The problem is the meat, which is not tender, but if you cook it for a very long time in a sauce it is as good as expensive fish. For the recipe i used sward fish and a little bit of cod. You can use your favorite kind of fish, or to save money, you can use less expensive qualities.
The recipe is popular in the area from Trapani to Marsala the west of the Sicilian coast and continuing to Mazara del Vallo. Marsala is the place where they produce the famous Marsala wines. On good years Sicily makes 60 per cent of the total production of Italian wine.
The area between Trapani and Marsala is also very important for the production of salt from see water.
While i was cooking i felt like opening a window on the Mediterranean see. It was really good!
Ingredients for two
couscous 6 oz , one can tomatoes or better tomato sauce, one or two cups of water, half a pound fresh fish ( i used mainly sward fish), one small onion, one clove of garlic, half a carrot, a spoon of chopped celery, one teaspoon of Saffron Powder,salt, chili pepper and pepper, two spoons of extra virgin oil
Start by doing the typical Italian soffritto, which means you take the vegetables and fry them in the oil. After five minutes add the fish in pieces and wait for the fish to be cooked before adding the tomato sauce or the can. Adjust spiciness to your taste with pepper
And add two cups of water. For the salt the sauce should be feeling quite salty to the taste so add enough. Than transfer everything in the crock pot and cook for three hours.
Pour one spoon of oil in a frying pan and than the cuscus at medium heat. Turn with a wooden spoon to make the cuscus absorb the oil. Add about two thirds of the warm fish broth with a dipper just by taking out the liquid part. bring to boil and serve by putting the fish and remaining broth on top.
Sicily offers good quality wines at incredible good prices. Try one of this easy to find. A white Corvo or a Regaleali. You will be impressed by a good quality price relation.