A couple of days ago, I managed to pull myself out of bed at 430am to make a trip down to Billingsgate Market, at Canary Wharf. It’s a wholesale wet market holding the likes of fresh fish, mussels, scallops, crabs, lobsters, and frozen seafood, all for really good prices. I’d think the produce available there is anytime fresher than the stuff back home and in the supermarkets here.
Well, so I got myself a whole salmon, a couple of sea-basses and a bag of live mussels. No chance to cook any of that for lunch; I hit the sack after an incredibly early morning out of bed.
Dinner, however, was salmon with couscous.
Butter-basted fillet of salmon, served on fennel, carrot and oregano couscous, garnished with arugula, chilli and a mini-slice of lemon.
- Melt a hunk of butter in a skillet and let it foam up a little. Crack a bit of black pepper in and squeeze in some lemon juice.
- Lay in the salmon fillet skin side down, and with a spoon, baste the fish continuously till it’s just right. Take care not to overcook it, else it’d get really dry.
- Be sure to let the fillet rest for a but after removing it from the pan.
- (At this stage, the skin of the salmon should peel off easily in a single piece. If you want, deep-fry it till crispy and then put it back on the fish.)
- Prepare a portion as you would as stated on the packaging instructions.
- While that’s happening, saute the minced fennel, carrot and shallots with some butter and a squeeze of lemon.
- When the carrot bits are tender, toss in the couscous and stir.
- Season accordingly with salt, pepper, oregano and a dash of chilli powder.
Damn, I should’ve deep-fried that skin.
A ballotine, which means ‘bundle’, is a French dish made of deboned meat fish or poultry (sometimes the whole animal) filled with stuffing and then rolled and tied into a bundle. It is roasted, poached or braised, and can be served hot or cold.
In this case, I made a couple of ballotines of pork shoulder and turkey breast, served on a bed of crushed peas and lemon-seasoned chopped peppers.
It’s a great thing that there’s still Christmas turkey left in the fridge, having it with a small bit of cranberry sauce is exquisite. The flavour of the bird having a friendly tug-o-war with the earthy aroma of pork is simply lovely. Not forgetting the fresh crunch of carrot ribbon rolls and subtle sweetness of the vegetables.
It’s amusing, I made a serving of couscous to go along with this; I need my carbs.
This is a great lazy cheat for awesome slurpy food when you’ve got some soup leftovers. (Note: This only works for clear soups, mostly the Asian sort. And of course, minestrone soup.)
I know I’ve sorta made a post about this before but hey, this is specifically for Coucous in Chinese Chicken Soup. You might say it’s a level up from Couscous, Stocked.
- Get your chicken soup leftover into a bowl and chuck it into the microwave for 2 minutes.
- Yes, that’s TWO minutes on high heat; you want it piping hot.
- And then in goes the couscous, right into the blistering hot bowl of soup. TIP! The ratio for this a little tricky. But basically, you need enough liquid to cover the coucous. Since you’re doing the reverse i.e. adding couscous to liquid, add the grains just so that there’s still enough water to cover the coucous. In this case, it’s okay to put less than more. (When the couscous is done, the grains would have been completely swollen with tasty goodness.)
- Cover with a plate or lid for 5-7 minutes.
- Have it hot, like you would with chunky soup.
Photography: Sarah Lee
Before I depart for my food expedition in Oslo, Norway, I’d like to leave with a very late but fortunate discovery. I have no idea why I didn’t think of this earlier, but here it goes.
Prepare your couscous with soup stock.
Whether you’ve got vegetable soup leftovers, or chicken juices from a roast, do not throw. You can always keep it for the next day with couscous. Add a tad bit of water so the soup or gravy leftover isn’t too thick. Then bring it to a boil and use it with your couscous.
I still have no idea how I didn’t think of this earlier.