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Spicy couscous with aromatic shellfish broth (Modern Moroccan: Ancient Traditions, Contemporary Cooking, Ghillie Basan)

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ready in 1 hour and 15 mins


A recipe that conjures up sitting on the shores of the Mediterranean on a warm evening.  This is the type of dish you may enjoy along the coast by Tangier or Casablanca.  The soup-like stew is ladled over cooked couscous and mopped up with lots of bread.



500g (1 1/4lb) medium couscous
1tsp salt
600ml (1pt) warm water
45ml (3tbsp) sunflower oil
1-2tsp harissa paste
25g (1oz) butter diced

For the shellfish broth:
500g (1 1/4lb) mussels in their shells, scrubbed and beards removed
500g (1 1/4lb) uncooked prawns in their shells
juice of 1 lemon
50g (2oz) butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
1tsp coriander seeds, roasted and ground
1tsp cumin seeds, roasted and ground
1/2tsp ground turmeric
1/2tsp cayenne pepper
1-2 tsp plain flour
600ml (1pt) fish stock
120ml (4floz) double cream
salt and ground black pepper
small bunch of fresh coriander, finely chopped, to serve


1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Place the couscous in a bowl. Stir the salt into the water, then pour over the couscous, stirring. Set aside for 10 minutes.

2. Stir the sunflower oil into the harissa paste until combined, then using your fingers, rub it into the couscous and break up any lumps. Tip into an ovenproof dish, arrange the butter over, cover with foil and heat in the oven for 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, put the mussels and prawns in a pan, discarding any mussels already open, add the lemon juice and 50ml/2floz water, cover and cook for 3-4 minutes, shaking the pan, until the mussels have opened. Drain the shellfish, reserving the liquor, and shell about two-thirds of the mussels and prawns. Discard any closed mussels.

4. Heat the butter in a large pan. Cook the shallots for about 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the spices and fry for 1 minute. Off the heat, stir in the flour, the fish stock and the shellfish cooking liquor. Bring to the boil, stirring. Add the cream and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, add the shellfish and most of the fresh coriander. Heat through, then sprinkle with the remaining coriander.

5. Fluff up the couscous with a fork or your fingers, working in the melted butter.

To serve, pass round the couscous and ladle the broth over the top.

Serves 4-6.

Try making your own harissa paste from our harissa dry spice mix - I think the flavours beat ordinary ready-made pastes hand down.

Buy your harissa here

Show your dish off to its best, on our authentic handcrafted Moroccan pottery, find the full range here

Looking for more recipe ideas? Why not download our free cook books here

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