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What does cous cous taste like?

s
steakrules85 May 21, 2007 08:58 PM

I am all for trying new things and am curious about this dish. It looks like rice but is made of semolina. Does it taste like rice? Is it any good? I know it is usually in Moroccan cuisine and I usually don't go that ethnic but was just wondeirng if anyone could gimme some insight. Thanks a lot for your help to whoever respondss!!

  1. lulubelle May 21, 2007 09:04 PM

    couscous doesn't have much flavor on its own; it picks up the flavor of whatever you cook it with. At the very least you need to make it with stock of some sort, although there are all sorts of other things you can do with it.

    1. purple goddess May 21, 2007 09:10 PM

      it tastes nutty.. sweeter than rice.. but still very bland.. it depends what you cook it with.

      We have friends who don't eat rice, and I use it as an accompanyment for dishes when they come over.

      It's uber cheap, uber easy and can be as simple or as complex as you like it.

      My basic recipe is boil one cup chicken stock, add a knob of butter.. when butter is melted and the stock is boiling, remove from the heat and add one cup of couscous, stirring until the liquid has been absorbed. Add salt and pepper and a wee bit more butter if it's a little dry.

      That's your basic recipe...

      1. h
        Humbucker May 21, 2007 11:22 PM

        It's a bit like tabbouleh (bulgur).

        1 Reply
        1. re: Humbucker
          hrhboo May 23, 2007 09:41 AM

          Tabbouleh isn't bulgur, it is a salad containing bulgur amongst other ingredients.

        2. t
          taryn May 22, 2007 01:25 AM

          the beauty of couscous is that it can taste like anything. just pick a theme and run with it. boil it in salted water (like pasta) and then mix in whatever you want. i posted about this before, but i like to either do something mexican (avocado, tomato, red peppers, corn, cilantro, lime, cheese and beans) or italian (sauteed mush, onions, spinach, cherry tomatoes, eggplant, parm and basil). this weekend i made one with lentils, lemon juice, chickpeas, garlic olive oil, dill, cumin and red onion. but sometimes i just put in butter and milk and cheese and make like 1 minute mac and cheese. i got my mom hooked on couscous recently and she makes a nice version with feta, olives, oregano, fennel, chickpeas, tomatoes and cukes, lemon and olive oil. mmmm.

           
          2 Replies
          1. re: taryn
            l
            Louise May 22, 2007 08:55 AM

            OP, note that this would be a cold salad. Make the couscous according to the above recipe, let it cool, then dress it and mix it with the other vegetables.

            You can also use couscous next to or under some stew that has yummy sauce--it will soak it up beautifully.

            1. re: Louise
              t
              taryn May 22, 2007 10:13 PM

              sorry i should have been more clear. i usually mix up my couscous salads with hot couscous (so the cheese melts and because i'm too impatient to wait), but for the greek one, i let the couscous cool off fully before tossing the ingredients. regardless, it tastes good warm, room temperature, and straight from the fridge the next day :)

          2. bitsubeats May 22, 2007 01:51 AM

            couscous is basically pasta - semolina and water. Its just really really tiny and thus cooks a heck of a lot faster than say spaghetti. Its also a pain in the butt to make (handmade) and requires a lot of skill. I have also heard that the correct way to cook it requires hours as opposed to 5 mins (which is how most supermarket couscous is cooked). I think it takes so long, because you have to steam it, dry it, mix it up, etc etc. But you definitely don't need to do that with supermarket cous cous

            Basically it tastes very similar to semolina pasta and tastes nothing like rice. I love it and I use it as a side dish or even thrown into a cold salad with parsley, mint, tomatos, and olive oil.

            2 Replies
            1. re: bitsubeats
              w
              wally May 22, 2007 02:43 PM

              It takes about an hour to an hour and a half if you do it the long way, steaming, moistening and letting sit a few times.

              1. re: wally
                bitsubeats May 22, 2007 10:35 PM

                that is a lot of work, but I bet it tastes unbelievable. I saw some moroccan women doing this on TV once, and it looked really fascinating

            2. k
              kleinfortlee May 22, 2007 02:53 AM

              plain couscous, made with water (super easy) tastse like little nuggets of thick spaghetti

              it's a chamelion pasta which takes on whatever you cook it with or pour over when it is finished cooking

              all it takes to cook is: boiling water, adding it, turn off heat and cover for five minutes, then fluff

              once you try it, you'll use it a lot!

              my suggestion: try it first time using chicken broth...then experiment

              1. pikawicca May 22, 2007 04:07 AM

                I prefer whole wheat cous-cous because it does have a flavor of its own.

                2 Replies
                1. re: pikawicca
                  b
                  brendastarlet May 22, 2007 10:23 AM

                  Yes, I second whole wheat couscous, easily found at Trader Joe's. IT's incredibly easy to make. I use chicken stock and water (straight chicken stock gets too salty) and use the cover for five minutes method. Add raisins if you like, but save pine nuts for after it's done, otherwise they get too soggy.

                  1. re: brendastarlet
                    liu May 22, 2007 10:42 AM

                    You make a good point about the salty chicken stock when used straight; however, recently I am noticing more and more brands beginning to offer "less salt" or "lower salt" options in their stocks and these are available at most markets. I have used these without adding water, and as long as I don't add other ingredients with salt or hidden salt, the couscous tastes fine.

                2. liu May 22, 2007 10:08 AM

                  I like the Israeli couscous. It looks like tiny gumballs and you can enjoy it as a salad item or warm. Whole Foods often has it in their prepared food case, already flavored, or you can purchase these pearls in their loose grain section. They are very easy and quick to cook. As others have posted here, it will take on any flavor you wish, and I suggest cooking them in chicken stock instead of water for added flavor.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: liu
                    Will Owen May 22, 2007 11:43 AM

                    Had that as a cold salad from a caterer Saturday - I thought it was tiny corn, and was very much surprised by the texture! It was pretty good, though IMO they overcooked it a bit. Thanks for the tip about Whole Foods; my wife really likes the regular quick-cooking couscous, and this will extend the repertoire nicely.

                    1. re: liu
                      pikawicca May 22, 2007 11:54 AM

                      If you like Israeli couscous, keep an eye out for Sicilian couscous ("fregola?") -- it's toasted Israeli couscous and very yummy.

                      1. re: pikawicca
                        susancinsf May 22, 2007 12:18 PM

                        I believe fregola is Sardinian, not Sicilian, and am not sure it is necessarily toasted. It is very tasty.

                        1. re: susancinsf
                          pikawicca May 22, 2007 12:26 PM

                          I believe you're right about Sardinia. The stuff I have is toasted, with the grains being various hues from cream to rather dark brown.

                    2. l
                      lexpatti May 22, 2007 12:01 PM

                      I love couscous, taste like a cross between tiny brown rice and tine pasta. I love an herbed flavored and often add loads of other things. Sometimes having it as a cold salad, other times hot. You can really jazz it up and make it a one pot meal by adding your favorite meat or seafood, vegies, herbs, etc. Great for a picnic. Stuff into a pocket, etc. It's quite versitile or just a nice side with olive oil, parm, garlic, sun dried tomatoe accents.

                      1. Sarah P May 22, 2007 12:34 PM

                        I agree with Purple Godess, it does have a bit of a nutty flavor but yes it is very bland. You need to mix and let sit in spices and broth to get the full affect.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Sarah P
                          Chowpatty May 22, 2007 02:40 PM

                          Just as a note, as the other posters have noted, it is pasta, usually made from white flour but sometimes from whole wheat, and therefore doesn't have any of the nutritional benefits of whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, barley, etc. I often talk to people who are under the impression it is some kind of wonderful healthy grain, but no more so than pasta.

                          1. re: Chowpatty
                            n
                            noblejay May 22, 2007 04:27 PM

                            Great thing about whole wheat couscous is that it is not only more healthful, but is actually better tasting than the regular…. something that cannot be said for nearly all whole wheat pasta, and nearly all whole wheat European and especially Mediterranean style breads.

                            1. re: noblejay
                              pikawicca May 22, 2007 04:35 PM

                              Whoa, there! German whole-grain breads are to-die-for. I have serious cravings for these when I come back to the U.S. I don't understand why we can't make breads like these. I used to frequent a bakery in the Black Forest that sold a rye loaf they called a "roggenkipf." You practically needed a chainsaw to cut through it, but it tasted sublime. Never had anything like it here.

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