Sicilian Inspired Fish Couscous

Sicilian Inspired Fish Couscous
Fishboxer Claire Wallace-Watson from Newcatle

This dish is inspired by a traditional recipe from the area of Trapani in Sicily, Italy, where it is a local speciality. The beaches around the town are famous for producing sea salt. This is great for using up odd fillets of fish or as a great alternative use for fish pie mix.


  • 600g mixed fish fillets (cut into large pieces) or fish pie mix
  • 120ml hot water
  • 200g medium couscous
  • 4tbsp olive oil
  • 2tbsp flat leaf parsley (chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
  • 1 small onion (chopped)
  • 1 bay leaf (fresh or dried)
  • 1 tomato (peeled, deseeded and cut into slices)
  • 1/8tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • large pinch of saffron
  • salt and black pepper (to taste)


  1. If using fish fillets, begin by cutting them into goujon sized chunks then set aside.
  2. Peel, deseed and cut the tomato into slices.
  3. Chop the parsley, garlic and onion then set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, soak the saffron in the hot water for 10 minutes.
  5. Add the couscous to a medium-sized bowl.
  6. Strain the saffron water through the couscous, then give it a good stir with a fork.
  7. Tip the couscous out on to a baking tray and spread out to dry.
  8. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan, over a medium heat.
  9. Gently fry the chopped onion and garlic for 5 minutes until softened but not coloured.
  10. Add the sliced tomatoes and fry for a couple of minutes more.
  11. Add the pieces of fish, season with salt and pepper and pour over enough cold water to cover.
  12. Simmer over a low heat until nearly cooked.
  13. Remove the fish with a slotted spoon and allow to cool.
  14. Remove any skin and bones from the fish.
  15. Strain the cooking liquid into your largest saucepan and top up with boiling water until it is approximately 5cm deep.
  16. Tip the couscous into a colander and place the colander over the pan, the rim of the colander should sit on the rim of the pan. The colander should not touch the liquid in the bottom of the pan.
  17. Wrap a tea towel around the top of the pan, between the pan and the colander.
  18. Now place the pan lid on top and weigh down with a heavy cloth.
  19. Leave the couscous to steam over the gently simmering liquid for 40 minutes.
  20. When the couscous is ready, remove from the heat and return the fish back to the stock in the bottom of the pan to heat through again.
  21. Take a large serving dish and add half of the couscous, the fish, 2 tbsp olive oil, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  22. Add the remaining couscous and the chopped parsley.
  23. Toss together gently and serve immediately.