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Couscous with Fish and Vegetable Kebabs and Charmoula Sauce

Serves: Makes 4 to 6 servings


  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 18 teaspoon cayenne
  • 12 cup coarsely chopped lightly packed fresh Italian parsley
  • 12 cup coarsely chopped lightly packed fresh cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 34 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 13 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, or more as needed
  • 112 pounds skinless firm white fish fillets (such as halibut, swordfish, or escolar)
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 (1-pound) head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
  • 2 large red bell peppers, halved, seeded, and cut into 1-inch squares
  • 12 ounces small zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1-inch-long rounds
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Harissa, for serving


Charmoula is a spicy mixture used as a marinade and a sauce. Here, it is used to coat fish and vegetables both before and after grilling, and to flavor the couscous. Serve the kebabs and couscous with harissa, Morocco’s fiery hot sauce.

  1. Prepare the Classic Couscous recipe as directed through step 4. Cover with a damp towel and let stand until about 20 minutes before serving time.

  2. Make the sauce: Place the cumin seeds in a small, dry skillet over medium heat and heat, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until a shade darker and fragrant. Cool. Transfer to a mortar or an electric spice grinder and grind finely. In a small bowl, stir together the ground cumin, ginger, paprika, salt, and cayenne.

  3. In a blender, combine the parsley, cilantro, and garlic and process to a paste. Alternatively, pound the ingredients to a paste in a mortar. Gradually add the spices and process or pound until blended. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil, or work in the oil slowly with the pestle, until blended. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the lemon juice until blended. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and/or cayenne and lemon juice, if needed. Set aside.

  4. Cut the fish into 112-inch pieces and arrange in a single layer on a platter. Brush the fish on both sides with about 3 tablespoons of the sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to cook.

  5. Half fill a 3-quart saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add the cauliflower and salt and boil, uncovered, for 3 minutes, or until the cauliflower is crisp-tender. Drain in a strainer and rinse with cold water. Spread on a folded kitchen towel to remove excess water.

  6. In a large bowl or a large resealable plastic bag, combine the cauliflower, bell peppers, and zucchini. Add about 3 tablespoons of the charmoula sauce and shake the bag to coat the vegetables evenly. Refrigerate with the fish.

  7. Complete step 6 of the Classic Couscous recipe, skipping steps 5 and 7.

  8. Thread the fish and vegetables onto six 12-inch metal skewers, alternating the ingredients and dividing them evenly among the skewers. Lightly brush with some of the charmoula sauce.

  9. Position an oven rack in the top of the oven so that the top of the broiler pan will be about 4 inches from the heat source, and preheat the broiler. Or, heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium high.

  10. When ready to serve, broil or grill the kebabs, turning as needed, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables are browned and the fish is opaque at the center when tested with the tip of a knife.

  11. Drizzle the olive oil on the hot couscous and fluff with the tines of a fork, then place the skewers on top of the couscous. Pass the reserved charmoula sauce and the harissa in small bowls at the table for diners to stir into their couscous to taste.

by Sur La Table & Andrews McMeel Publishing

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