Monday, August 13, 2007

Alright, Boys: Green Tea CousCous

Good thing I was making this tonight, so as to satisfy the rabid curiosity of Jon and Red. Because when they first call all pesky about the recipe I didn't have a picture. And we're all about the pictures of yummy food, are we not?

First of all, let's talk just a little about couscous, shall we? As The Spouse likes to say, "Couscous, the side dish so good they named it twice". It is a delightful semolina based product, fine of grain and easy to cook. Traditionally hand rolled in a very labor intensive process, it is now made by mechanized means. Rather than requiring long steaming and fussing, as the traditional product does/did, it is now pre-steamed and dried before packaging for quick preparation. How quick, you ask? Is 5 minutes good?

The basic method couldn't be simpler. Assume roughly 1/2 c. of dried couscous for each serving. Measure out the amount you desire. (For grins we'll assume it's you and one guest). Place the 1 c. of couscous in a bowl. Boil water. Measure out boiling water on a 1:1 ratio with the couscous. Pour the water over the couscous and give the bowl a gentle swirl to make sure water is evenly distributed. Cover with a plate. Walk away.

5 minutes later your dish is done. Fluff the grains with a fork and it is ready to serve. Plain couscous has a faint, very faint nutty essence and as is, makes a very nice bed for some sort of meat that is very juicy or accompanied by a nice sauce. The couscous will soak up the flavors of the meat and sauce and offer them back to you as a tasty little side dish.

Soaking up flavors is what couscous is all about. Traditionally, it is placed in a steamer basket atop a special cooking pot (a couscousier in French), where it sits and steams, absorbing all the goodness of whatever savory stew bubbles below it. But couscous is very malleable and responds well to any impulse to jazz it up.

The jazz in this recipe begins by using brewed green tea instead of plain boiling water for the steeping agent. The additions to the couscous flow out of that Asian influenced note. And really, like all good jazz, improvisation is key. Add riffs, float over some notes, change the key...whatever takes your fancy.

Green Tea Couscous

For the dressing:
2 T. olive oil
2 T. rice wine vinegar
1 T. fresh lime juice
1/4 c. fresh mint, chopped
pinch of sugar

For the couscous:
1 1/2 c. brewed green tea
1 T. sake
1 1/2 c. couscous
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
6 dried apricots, cut into thin strips
3-4 green onions, white and light green bits, thinly sliced
½ red bell pepper, finely diced
salt and pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, mint and shallot. Season to taste with a pinch or two of sugar. Set aside.

Place couscous in a medium bowl. In medium saucepan, bring the green tea and sake to a boil. Pour over the couscous. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff grains with a fork.

Add the grated carrot, dried apricots, scallions, and red bell pepper to the couscous. Pour the dressing over the couscous and toss to mix. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.


Anonymous said...

Well this bit was terribly fun to read. Though I am always tempted to toss out a polite "Gesundheit" whenever the word 'couscous' is uttered.

more cowbell said...

I love couscous. It is so easy, even I can make a dish that seems fancy with it. Being veggies, we eat a fair amount of it.

Lorraine said...

Glad you liked it, Hat. Bless you.

CB, exactly. Hard to mess up, easy to dress up.

Buck said...

Lovely post!

Thanks for the answer. I was really intrigued.

I haven't any green tea though. I'll try it Nestea Instant.