Couscous with Fish Stew (Cuscus Trapanese)

Couscous cooked in a fish broth enhanced with shrimp shells and lobster can only be irresistable. This recipe demonstrates the important technique of maximizing the ingredients you have and the taste they can exude!

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1 (16-ounce) box plain couscous
2 lb firm non-oily fish such as tile, monk, sea bass, grouper, or eel
2 lb shrimp, calamari, and/or lobster
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 bunch  Italian flat-leaf parsley
2 lb fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped or 1 (28-ounce) can peeled tomatoes
4 bay leaves
salt & black pepper to taste


  • If you bought whole fish, remove the heads and the tails and set them aside.
  • Cut the fish into large pieces, separate the tentacles of the calamari from the body, remove the heads, and cut the bodies into rings.
  • Shell the shrimp, and add the shells to the fish heads.
  • If you are using lobsters, leave them whole for the final presentation.
  • Wash the heads, tails, and shrimp shells, wrap them in a double thickness of cheese cloth, tie them securely, and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Finely chop the parsley

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot, add the garlic and sauté until it barely begins to color. Add the parsley, stir, then add the tomatoes

2. Add the fish heads, shrimp shells, etc in their cheesecloth, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Add enough cold water to cover, bring the pot back to the boil, cover, lower the heat to simmer, and cook for 45 minutes. Remove the cheesecloth package from the pot, and discard.

3. Bring the pot back to the boil, add the calamari, simmer for 10 minutes, then add the fish.

4. Simmer for another 10 minutes, then add the shrimp, and lobster, and simmer for another 5 minutes. Turn the heat off, and remove the fish with a skimmer. Strain the broth.

5. Place the prepared couscous on a large platter and pour 2 cups of strained fish broth over it. Cover the platter with aluminum foil, place a bath towel over it, and let stand for 30 minutes, or as indicated on the package, while the grains swell and absorb the broth.

6. Meanwhile, bone the fish, and have it ready to add to plate. When ready to serve, surround the couscous with pieces of fish, and top it with lobsters if you have used them.

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