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Trapani-style couscous

Trapani-style couscous

We prepare a traditional recipe of Sicilian cuisine based on fish and slightly spiced: the exquisite Trapani-style couscous.

The recipe for Trapani-style fish couscous has ancient origins and was born from the fusion of two cuisines , the Moroccan and the Sicilian . Of the first we have couscous, i.e. grains of durum wheat semolina (the same one used to make pasta) and spices; of the second the rich seasoning based on fresh fish.

Also called couscous in Trapanisi , as often happens with traditional recipes there is not just one version. The type of fish as well as the dosage and use of spices can vary from family to family. Some people use tomato sauce instead of concentrate but we wanted to give you a recipe with strong flavours . The preparation takes a little time but we can guarantee you that the result will be worth the effort.

Trapani-style couscous
Trapani-style couscous

How to prepare the Trapani style couscous recipe

For convenience and clarity, the recipe is divided into the various steps necessary for its preparation, indicating the required ingredients for each one.

Making fish broth (cartoon)

  • 1 kg of soup fish (bones)
  • 500 g of prawns (the heads)
  • ½ glass of white wine
  • 1 onion
  • 1 stick of celery (optional)
  • 1 carrot (optional)
  • 1 sprig of parsley (stalks only)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
  1. First clean the soup fish (or ask the fishmonger to do this operation) and put the fish bones in a saucepan, throwing away the entrails. Also clean the prawns and add the heads and shell.
  2. Pour 1 liter of water, add half the white wine, the onion peeled and cut into quarters and possibly also the celery and carrot. Flavor with bay leaves, cinnamon (to taste) and parsley stems, add 1 teaspoon of coarse salt and leave to cook for 1 hour .
  3. Filter the broth and keep it aside.
Read also
Fish stock

Prepare the fish for the couscous

  • 1 kg of soup fish (fillets)
  • 500 g of prawns (the tails)
  • 500 g of calamari
  • ½ glass of white wine
  • 1 kg of mussels and clams
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 sprig of parsley (the leaves)
  • Extra virgin olive oil to taste
  1. First, soak the clams in cold water for at least 2 hours so that they release the sand. Remember to change the water at least once.
  2. Then clean the mussels by removing the beard and scraping the shell with a scourer. Rinse them well under running water.
  3. Place the mussels and clams in a pan with a drizzle of oil and the garlic clove, then add the white wine. Cover and let them open for a couple of minutes.
  4. Filter the remaining liquid and add it to the previously prepared comic.
  5. Now clean the squid by removing the head, fins, skin, beak and internal bone then cut them into rings (you can opt for a clean product even defrosted).
  6. In a pan, heat a drizzle of oil with the other clove of minced garlic together with almonds and parsley. Add the squid rings, paprika and saffron together with a ladle of fish broth in which you have dissolved the concentrate and leave to cook for 40 minutes, adding hot stock as needed.
  7. Then add the fish fillets obtained at the beginning while preparing the broth and continue cooking for another 10 minutes .
  8. Finally, add the prawns without the intestines which will cook in a couple of minutes . In these phases, if necessary, you can add more broth.

Prepare the couscous

  • 300 g of couscous
  • 300 ml of fish broth
  1. Place the couscous in a large bowl and add 300 ml of boiling fish broth.
  2. Cover with a lid or a plate and leave to cool for 10 minutes, after which you will fluff it with a fork.

Serve the couscous by spreading it on a plate and placing the fish, mussels and clams on top. Then sprinkle with the remaining comic.

Read also
Types of couscous: differences and origins


With Sicilian fish couscous you will make any lunch rich in flavour. You can store it for 1 day in the fridge , in an airtight container.

Origin and history of Trapani-style fish couscous

Couscous is the undisputed protagonist of many typical dishes of Moroccan cuisine where it is traditionally served with meat, mainly lamb, and vegetables and was born from the need of the nomadic Berber populations to preserve cereals for as long as possible.

Sicily, however, is a land that has undergone strong contamination due to foreign domination . This is how couscous becomes part of its tradition combined with another pride of the island, freshly caught fish. We are between the 7th and 8th centuries when Trapani-style couscous was born, sometimes called couscous by simplifying the name.

According to the island's (but also Moroccan) tradition, the couscous should be made on the spot with the incocciatura technique: rub the durum wheat semolina between your hands, adding water little by little until you obtain the characteristic grains. Everything is then cooked in the traditional pot known as a couscoussiera , a sort of steam basket where the fish (or meat) sauce is cooked underneath and the semolina is cooked on top, using steam.

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