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Now browsing: Hometown News > Columnist Archives > Cooking - The Seasoned Chef

A cool dish for hot days
Rating: 2.98 / 5 (224 votes)  
Posted: 2007 Aug 17 - 02:54

The intense south Florida heat is the inspiration for this dish. Trying to come up with a dish that is light and refreshing is the goal, and this dish is just that.

Couscous, a staple of North African cuisine, may be served with milk as porridge, with dressing in a salad, or sweetened and mixed with fruits for dessert. The name couscous also refers to the famous Maghreb dish, in which semolina or cracked wheat is steamed in the perforated top of a special pot called a couscoussiere.

Couscous varies from country to country.

Moroccans include saffron, Algerians like to add tomatoes and the Tunisians spice theirs up with the hot pepper-based hariss sauce. Couscous also varies in size. The slightly larger Israeli version is a favorite of mine.

Pineapple glazed grouper skewers

Makes 4 servings

Four 6-ounce pieces of grouper

1 pineapple

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1/2 cup of chicken stock

Salt and pepper to taste

Israeli couscous

One pound of Israeli couscous

2-1/2 cups of chicken stock

1 small red onion, small dice

1/2-cup of golden raisins

1/2-cup of unsalted peanuts

1 ripe beefsteak tomato

2 tablespoons of parsley, chopped

1 cup of watermelon, medium dice

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

We will start with the pineapple glaze.

Cut the outer layer of the pineapple off and discard, then cut the flesh off the center core, which is round and about the size of a quarter. Save that core for later and chop up the remaining pineapple.

In a heavy pot over high heat, add the olive oil and chopped yellow onion. Cook for 6 minutes, stirring frequently, then add the pineapple, lower the heat to medium and cook for 20 minutes.

Add the chicken stock and cook for another 10 minutes. Let this cool, then pass it through a strainer and set it to the side.

Wash the grouper and dry it with a paper towel. Cut each piece in half lengthwise; then cut each half into 3 pieces. Season with salt, pepper and a little olive oil and set them to the side.

Now take the core piece of pineapple and cut it into 4 pieces lengthwise.

On one end of each piece, slice off a little bit on an angle to create a spear shape. Skewer six pieces of grouper on to each pineapple spear.

When the couscous is almost cool, get your grill as hot as you can, clean it really well and grill the grouper skewers for 2 minutes on each side.

Now for the couscous.

In a medium to large pot, heat the chicken stock over a high flame until it boils, add the couscous, turn down the flame a bit and give it a good stir. Let cook for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

By now the couscous should have absorbed all the chicken stock, so turn the heat off and cover.

In a medium bow, toss the onion, raisins, peanuts, tomato, parsley, watermelon and olive oil, then add the couscous, salt and pepper to taste and mix together.

Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

To finish this dish, grill the grouper as directed and spoon the couscous salad into the center of four plates. When the grouper is almost done, start spooning the pineapple glaze over each piece until well coated.

Gently place one grouper skewer on top of each bed of couscous and you're done.

Tips and techniques

You can find couscous in Middle Eastern markets or large supermarkets.

You can substitute mahi mahi, salmon or chicken for the grouper.

Always wash your fish well and dry it with a paper towel before cooking.

If you have a hard time getting the grouper on the skewers with your knife, just poke a little hole in the center of each piece of fish.

Contact Chris Kennedy at Seasoned Catering at (561) 351-0221, or e-mail chris@seasonedcatering.com.

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