A wide range of fish can be used for this couscous, but it’s important that the fish has
few bones, or at least large ones that are easy to remove. That means fillets or steaks.
Use fillets that have the skin still on, which helps keep them from flaking apart. Fillets
from medium sea bream are perfect.
This recipe is loosely adapted from one made by Zoubida Azouzi. She lives in Tiznit, a
key transit city between the deep south and the Sahara and the rest of the country, not
far inland from the sea. Zoubida cooks at the Bab el Maâder guesthouse within the city’s
sturdy, 4-mi/6.5-km circuit of pounded earth-and-straw pisé walls. She prepares the fish,
preferably courbine, or meagre, in one pot and the broth in a couscoussier, over which
she steams the couscous grains. Unless you are steaming the couscous over the broth,
you can use a single pot and gently slip the fillets or steaks into the broth at the end to
poach the fish.
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 small garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 Tbsp/60 ml olive oil
11⁄2 to 2 lb/680 to 910 g large skin-on bream,
sea bass, cod, or grouper fillets, cut into
6 portions, or 3 lb/1.4 kg bream, hake,
swordfish, or monkfish steaks
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 ripe medium tomatoes, halved, seeded,
and grated (see Note, page 78)
1⁄2 Tbsp turmeric
1 pinch cayenne pepper
4 medium carrots, scrubbed and halved
lengthwise and then crosswise
2 small turnips, peeled and halved lengthwise
2 medium zucchini, scrubbed and halved
lengthwise and then crosswise
Couscous Grains (page 171)
In a mixing bowl, add the parsley, garlic, 1 tsp of
the paprika, and the cumin. Season with salt and
pepper. Moisten with 2 Tbsp of the olive oil
and blend well. Place the fish in the marinade
and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate, turning
occasionally, until ready to cook.
In the bottom of a couscoussier or large pot,
put the remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil, the onion,
and tomatoes and cook over medium heat until
the tomatoes are a deeper red and pulpy, about
10 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 tsp paprika,
the turmeric, and cayenne. Season with salt
and add the carrots and turnips. Cover with
5 cups/1.2 L water and bring to a boil over high
heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, loosely
cover, and cook at a low boil for 1 hour. Lay the
zucchini in the broth and cook for 15 minutes.
Remove the fish from the marinade, discarding
any excess marinade. Gently lay the fillets
in the broth and cook until opaque throughout,
5 to 15 minutes depending on the fish. Baste
occasionally with the liquid using a ladle or by
gently swirling the pot.
With a slotted spoon, very carefully transfer
the fish to a platter and then the vegetables.
Strain the broth and taste for seasoning, adjusting
as needed. On a large serving platter or dish,
gently mound the couscous and make a well in
the center. Place the fish in the well, and spread
the vegetables around the couscous in an attractive
pattern. Drizzle a ladleful of the broth evenly
over the top. Serve with the remaining broth in a
bowl on the side.