If that title doesn’t make your mouth water, I feel bad for your undistinguished palate. Just kidding, most people actually won’t find this tantalizing at all, but you know what? More for you.
This recipe is 100% out of my comfort zone, and I think the danger of that is what excites me. You see, when I was growing up, fish didn’t even exist in my world. My grandma bought fish sticks ONCE and I think they sat in the freezer for four years. I really didn’t know that fish came any other way.
When I got older, I heard this rumor going around that fish is like… good for you or something? I buy into that stuff, so of course I had to concur the animals of the deep. The first time I had Cod, I actually felt sad that I had wasted 23 years of my life not eating this beautiful, delicious fish.
I got the idea to put it over couscous when I was scrounging up dinner one night and they were literally the only two things I had in my house, along with some questionably aged light cream. I took the first bite half expecting to vomit, but low and behold– this was THE greatest thing I had ever tasted. Since then, it has become a regular meal in my house.
I start by using frozen Cod because well, you just don’t get fresh wild caught fish in central PA.
Obviously since fish is pretty bland, you’re going to want to heavily salt and pepper both sides. It also falls apart very easily, so I make sure that the bottom of the pan is totally coated in a thin layer of olive oil.
Now, I like my fish a little “crispy” on the outside, so I cook it at a higher temp than most meats– right below medium heat. And since fish is so fragile, make sure you cook it long enough that you only need to flip once. Any more than that and it’s probably going to fall apart in the pan. Personally, I like it better when it’s all fallen apart and cooked in pieces, but it really kills the presentation.
What I am going to tell you next is something that I am really embarrassed about because it goes against everything that I believe. My couscous…. comes… from….
I know, I know. I’m terrible. BUT, the last time I bought plain couscous my husband fed it to the dogs. I can’t be having that, so to eliminate any marital problems; I do him a favor and kindly remind him that it’s off limits. I like the Whole Foods brand because the flavor isn’t too strong, so it doesn’t overpower anything.
But whether it’s plain or in a box, it’s honestly all the same. You just have to add your own spices otherwise. I use onion powder, garlic powder, and oregano. Or you can just buy it in a box, too (not something I will advise often!)
One thing to note is that pearled couscous is little different than the little tiny couscous because it needs to be boiled. It’s really just tiny pasta balls, so don’t freak yourself out.
The sauce is the part that might seem a little worrisome, but it’s so simple. Once you’re fish is done, just remove it from the pan and set aside. The fish juice that is left in the bottom is your secret ingredient! Right to it, add the butter and garlic and whisk it so that all that goodness from the fish comes up. You only want to do this for about 30 seconds before you add the cream, and I’ll be honest; it won’t look appetizing at first.
Once all those fats start coming together, though.. it’s magic. Well, it’s actually science, but the fact that anything can taste this spectacular with just a few ingredients- that’s a case for Unsolved Mysteries.
Eventually, it’s going to start looking like this and that’s when you know it’s thickening up. You will know it’s done by doing the “spoon test.” This is where you coat the spoon and wipe a streak off with your finger; if it doesn’t run, you know it’s done!
By this time, your couscous should be done cooking. I always serve it layered because you want every bite to encompass a little bit of everything! So you spoon the couscous onto the plate, put the fish right on top, and pour lots and lots of this sauce all over it!
The picture isn’t very pleasing to the eye, because cod isn’t really a fancy looking fish. But what it lacks in looks, it sure makes up for in flavor.
1 cod portion per serving size (depends on how many you’re cooking for, listed ingredients will work for up to 4)
1 cup couscous (or one box)
(1 tsp each; salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and oregano if not using boxed)
1 tbsp butter
1 large garlic clove
1 cup light cream
Coat pan with olive oil, and place over medium heat. Generously salt and pepper both sides fish. Once the pan is hot, place fish in and cook about 5-7 minutes on either side. Remember- only flip ONCE.
Once cooked, remove from pan and set aside. Add your butter and garlic into the fish pan. Whisk for about 30 seconds and then add cream. Continuing whisking while the cream thickens up- about 6 minutes until it’s done.
For the couscous; bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add in the season packet or premixed spices. Add dry couscous and cook about 8 minutes or until tender.
Serve fish over a bed of couscous and drizzle (or douse) with sauce!