Monday, April 4, 2011

Couscous Primavera – Because I Don't Get Enough Hate Mail from Morocco

Well, it started before I even posted the recipe. Here's a comment from the couscous primavera tease post I did yesterday:

Soukaina said... "plz plz plzzzzzzzzzz !! I am begging you !! stop massacring couscous !! I'm a Moroccan ; been born there , lived there my entire life so I know what I'm talking about !! there's one way and one way only to make couscous , and yours is just not it !! but if you prefer changing some ingredients or adding some stuff to it? that's fine ! do as you wish !! just don't call it couscous."

First of all, I'm only calling this couscous because the package says, "Couscous," and the stuff inside the package was couscous – or at least what we Americans get as couscous. 

Secondly, as with all my ethnically inspired dishes, I don't claim this is in any way authentic. I'm sure it's not, but not having ever had "real" Moroccan couscous I can't argue which version is better, so I'll just assume mine is.

Anyway, the point is, we're not trying to "massacre" anyone's cultural/culinary heritage. This is how we do couscous around these parts, and it's tough to knock a healthy, delicious, and easy side dish that takes about 10 minutes to make.

I'm obviously borrowing the name from the ubiquitous spring dish, Pasta Primavera, which like this recipe hopes to take advantage of fresh, seasonal, green produce. Speaking of which, you are highly encouraged to use whatever vegetables look good at your local (hopefully farmer's) market.

Please note: check the instructions on whatever package of couscous you happen to use. Times vary from 5-10 minutes depending on the brand. Enjoy!


Couscous Ingredients:
2 cups couscous
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 jalapeno, minced
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 tsp cumin
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
big pinch of cayenne
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 small bunch asparagus, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 cup freshly shucked green peas (or sub frozen like me)
2 tablespoon chopped fresh mint, or other sweet herbs

View the complete recipe

45 comments:

Livia said...

That looks good! I'll have to make it sometime these days...

As a foreigner in this country, I used to feel mostly disappointment when I tried the stuff I encountered under the name "Hungarian Goulash". Particularly when it came as a cheese, tomato and pasta bake. The only thing that actually annoyed me was when people declared that they hated "Hungarian Goulash" having only tried the Americanized versions. The rest is all cool...well, slightly disappointing at the initial few tries when one still expects to find their comfort food in a different country :-)

Marco said...

As an Italian living in the UK I often see Italian food completely massacred here, but massacring is different from reusing some ingredients in other ways.
About the name, couscous is used both for the dish and the ingredient and the usage of the term changes in different countries.
Also, couscous cannot be claimed as their dish only by Moroccans; it's used (and used in different ways) in a lot of Mediterranean countries, including Southern Italy.

Lua said...

As couscous refers also to the semolina granules and not just the dish, I say call it couscous.

Also it'd be nice that the person that thinks it is not authentic, explain why and how they actually do it. I personally think just pointing fingers without giving any tips/advice is not the best of attitudes.

Also I think pretty much every dish cooked out of its country or folks will be desecrated by foreigners according to the locals no matter what you do, so do what you like.

Anonymous said...

Chef John: my hero

Adam said...

I'm from Tennessee, and these grits are in no way authentic. :)

theo said...

the suspense was worth it.
versatility is my broke-college-graduate middle name.

thanks Chef John!!

Anonymous said...

This actually looks good, when I went to an Arab's house it was lunch time: we well just get on well together (the couscous and I) and so I had to turn to bread and hummus. Being from the Indo-pak region..I like more flavour, but I do find Arab sweets amazing!!

Anonymous said...

Of course it's not authentic couscous... the video is only 4 minutes.

Shoot as a ex NYker living in Canada, I have to live with their idea of what pizza is supposed to be. I try to enjoy it, but I never mistake it for the real thing. On a good day, I can almost forget.

But hey I applaud Chef John for expanding everyone's culinary borders. If only we could base foreign relations on the beauty of their cuisine, food is universally amazing...

Anonymous said...

Just to be on the safe side, call everything "vittles."

Rodge said...

Deborah Madison in her classic "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" explain how to prepare couscous in a traditonal way that make it light and fluffy. Grains don't stick together. Very good but it take much longer to prepare.

Cheers !

Asian Malaysian said...

Chef John, would your liberal approach to food authenticity extend to Fabio Viviani's "booger" on Top Chef?

Maureen said...

I LOVE the let's just call it vittles comment! People have too much time on their hands if they need to complain about how someone else cooks his food. Don't like it? Don't eat it. It's really that simple.

This is a yummy looking recipe and I'm going to cook it soon. I'll call it Vittles with Couscous.

Chef John said...

I missed that episode!!

Steven K. said...

Thank you, Maureen. "Vittles," is a term that just isn't used much anymore. Instead of Cous-Cous Primavera, I'm making this tonight and calling it Veggie Vittles. And I'm putting some Moroccan Harissa sauce on it!

Razors Edge said...

This video will cause a revolution in Morocco...

Just letting you know Chef John. Not that you're to blame or anything but..

Pantalone said...

Other than a massacre this looks pretty good. I love asparagus ... maybe with a little dressing too.

Middle eastern said...

Looking good, thanks Chef John

karimakene said...

hahahahah i read what some moroccoan write to ya and it made me laugh...there is thousand ways to make good couscous not only 1 like this person told.i love couscous and i adore tunisian couscous but in same time i make all different things and ways to cook it.with meat without with vegetables with beans etc.keep going and good luck

karimakene said...

sorry i forgot to say
when u mix oil to couscous put little hot(not boiling water) water too and then mix all with couscous.my motherin law is tunisian and i learn to make couscous there.when u put oil and water it help to be more delisious and not to try.and real couscous not pasta :)

Anonymous said...

Next time, add Italian sausage and Moroccan lamb so you can rename it Mixed Meataphor.

Jim

Steve said...

USA ALL THE WAY

Nada said...

Chef John,
Couscous dishe (s) are being cooked from Morocco to Tunisia. Many ways and not only one. It is not your fault that Couscous is written in the packages instead of Rolled Semoulina for couscous, I guess it makes it easy to sell!
I'm Moroccan by the way!
I since you haven't tried to say : I am making a Moroccan couscous" while you made your primavera version I don't feel offended!
Somebody said you find couscous dished in Southern Italy...A quick research in History from fair Historian will bring this back to the time Sicilia and surrounding sections of Italy used to trade with Arabs. They have other Arab inspired dishes and musics...When they want to admit it!

That Said! The Rolled semoulina has been imported abroad as couscous and besides the traditional couscous versions in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, one should be open to use it with other ingredients!

I hope this helps!

Larry said...

As a trained chef (and food lover) you should *never* let anyone get away with a comment such as "there is one way, and one way only, to prepare" anything! I cannot think of a single food or ingredient for which that statement is true. I love coming to your site and discovering new ways to prepare food and new recipes to try.

Basia said...

Since Moroccan cuisine is already an amalgam of numerous surrounding cultures, claiming singular authenticity for a particular dish is pretty specious. How about we won't "massacre" couscous if the writer won't massacre the spelling of "Please"? I'm making this couscous tonight in protest of food facism!!

alcyonetwothree said...

how boring the world would be if there really were 'one way and only one way' to cook anything! keep on riffing, Chef!
Jason

Wendy B. said...

Wait, what? Who said Canadians don't know how to make pizza?
As for couscous, it's an ingredient. Make of it what you will!

Chris K. said...

Authentic or not, I would like to see Moor recipes like this one.

And in Soukaina's honor, I'm going to make couscous with bacon, just for the halal of it.

Chef John said...

lol

Lua said...

After Chris K. post, I can't help myself:

http://instantrimshot.com/

Brad said...

This (with my own additions/changes) totally rocked. The wife is in heaven!

http://i52.tinypic.com/34smpna.jpg

Chef John said...

nice!!

coupland said...

I made this today except it was totally and completely different. I added chopped tomatoes, finely chopped asparagus and sweet peas to egg noodles, salt, pepper, and a MASSIVE dollop of everyone's favourite: home-made creme fraiche. It was to die for and heavily inspired by this recipe.

faylynnwang said...

I am Chinese, should I be annoyed by all the chinese resturants that are not in China then? Of course not. Cooking food in a certain way is just a concept and conveniently named after different regions. You should experienment with your cooking, except when you really want to make it in a specific way that is already named, then maybe its better to stick to a that recipe. This sort of email is rediculous. I love your variations on chinese food. :)

Anonymous said...

Chef John you Rock! <3

Anonymous said...

This was fantastic! My variation was that I substituted cremini mushrooms with the asparagus, added some crushed garlic, and just used the cumin (only because I knew the jalapenos would be a bit much for me). This tastes so good and smells so fragrant. Thank you!

Mariah said...

I'm part Moroccan, and I gotta say Chef John, your couscous looks so friggin delish!!

Food is FOOD, and couscous is couscous, so you making your own couscous, is still..couscous lol. So that Soukina lady's delusional.
Guess its understandable because ALL YOUR DISHES CHEF JOHN, IS SOOO EYE BOGGLING that everyone gets sucked into it! Therefore, leading the lady into a more confused state.

Do more fusion dishes!! Love it!

Kurt said...

Chef John,

I made this last night and at the very end when I lifted off the foil I added diced rotisserie chicken and then fluffed it up. Not vegetarian anymore, but pretty dern good! I could see myself adding some saute'd Portabello Mushroom strips as a variation as well.

Mummsie said...

I made this a few days ago and it is so good! Thank you Chef John

whatdafudge said...

It was my first time making couscous and I'm still a beginner in cooking. Surprisingly it turned out delicious and great! Thanks for sharing us your recipe and I love watching your videos; it has helped me a lot. I was a bad cook but I'm improving because of you. =)

Hamako said...

I tried this, and it turned out great! My family loved it, and even I loved it! Despite my hatred for Asparagus! Thanks again Chef John for another awesome dish!

Anonymous said...

I made this for my mom and dad, who hate couscous lol and they loved it. I omitted the JalapeƱos because I didn't have any on hand.... :P but it was great, thank you!

Anonymous said...

Well, I've come to peace with couscous being used for other things than traditional Moroccan couscous, but I still can't bring myself to do it... lol
Looks good though! ;)

Salvador said...

It´s quite disturbing to read that you say "I can't argue which version is better, so I'll just assume mine is.". Are you serious? being a cook and you assume your version is better than the "traditional" and not to mention that you HAVEN´T tasted version?
Just accept that you messed it and accept that Americanized version of many dishes around the globe are not the best versions nor nearly close to the original.

Ambreen said...

I made this recipe (and any of your recipes) for the first time & it was a hit. It was the first time my family have tried asparagus or couscous. We used bullion cubes. I was worried the asparagus might be bitter but it was good. Super easy & can be customized. Loved it for a rice hater like me! Thank you!

Unknown said...

I just made this, and topped it with some grilled pressed tofu. IT'S SOOO GOOD! Thanks :)