Saturday, September 6, 2008

An affair with Chanterelles....

I often head to the farmer's market at Copley Square here in Boston, and with a rare find of chanterelles, what is more delightful than experiment with it, and share your fruit of labour with your friends....or should I put it, having your dear friends to be your guinea pigs for your experimental treats....teehee....

I was never a great fan of traditional couscous
....the crumbly texture like sable, and the miniscule granules are a challenge for my palate. Couscous or kuskus is a pasta from the Maghreb of Berber origin. It consists of spherical granules made by rolling and shaping moistened semolina wheat and then coating them with finely ground wheat flour. The finished grains are about 1 mm in diameter before cooking. Traditional couscous requires considerable preparation time and is usually steamed. In many places, a more processed quick-cook couscous is available and is particularly valued for its short preparation time.

Roaming around Boston, I have found a few Middle-Eastern markets hidden within Haymarket. It was not difficult to loiter within one of them, the experience was an eye opener....the display
of numerous cuts of meats, the delectable collection fruit spreads *figs....hmmm...., and isle after isle of various grains. Out of fields and fields of yellow cousin, I came across this couscous....white like pearls, and in the size of white was my first introduction to the Israeli Couscous. With my curiosity in food and ingredients, it was not possible for me not to trade for a bag with my pocket change.

Israeli Couscous, also known as maftoul or pearl couscous, is made of hard wheat instead of semolina in traditional couscous, which gives it the white pearlish colour. Israeli couscous is a version of North African Berkukes, introduced by immigrants from various parts of North Africa in the early 1950s, and Levantine Maghrebiyya (from the Maghreb) common in Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Israeli couscous was meant to provide a rice substitute for those immigrants from eastern Arab countries and from Persia, where rice was the staple grain. Unlike North African couscous, it is not semolina at all, but rather a toasted mixture of bulgur and flour.

In order to take in the natural flavour and texture of the couscous, I lightly toasted the Israeli couscous in a saucier with a little bit of olive oil, then boiled it with water and a generous pinch of NaCl. The delicate scent and flavour of wheat, and the al dente texture, make Israeli couscous an excellent palette for pairing with other ingredients. The couscous came out just slightly on the sticky side, due to the leaching of starch from the grain in the process of cooking, maybe a little herb infused oil would loosen it up, as well as a vehicle for adding flavour.

And with a handful of chanterelles ready, I couldn't wait to test out ideas within my imaginations....still working on putting the recipe in writing, so stay tune....

Israeli Couscous Infused with Chanterelles.... on Foodista

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