Golden cous-cous

Food trivia: the name “cous-cous” is a wonderful example of a circular onomatopoeia. Cous-cous is traditionally cooked in a Couscousier – which is basically a fancy cous-cous steamer. As the couscousier cooks the cous-cous (try saying that after a few drinks) the sound of the steam escaping makes a “cous” sound, lifting the lid off the pan. The lid repeatedly lifts and falls “cous….cous…cous…cous…”. Thus the couscousier gets its name from the cous sound, which gives its name to the cous-cous, which is cooked in the couscousier.

But not in my kitchen it doesn’t, as the VegHead doesn’t own a couscousier. On other occasions a standard two level vegetable steaming pan has sufficed, with the top pan lined with a light cotton cloth. This recipe however doesn’t use that method of cooking cous-cous at all, which just goes to illustrate that random ramblings into obscure kitchen lore don’t necessarily have anything to do with the recipe that follows.


  • One dry cup of “quick” cous-cous – which is the way most people will buy it. According to the packet I buy, this is meant to be prepared by simply adding an equal quantity of boiled water and allowing it to sit in a covered bowl for five minutes. Ignore that instruction; the manufacturers don’t know what the hell they’re talking about…
  • Two cups of cold water
  • One cup of chopped broccoli florets
  • A few fine slices of onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of sweet, light miso (pre-dissolve in a little boiled water)
  • 1 teaspoon of tumeric powder (actually 1 teaspoon of fresh, grated tumeric root is much better if you have it)
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika powder
  • 1 small clutch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Olive oil

To make:

  • In a medium sized saucepan, stir about 1 tablespoon of olive oil through the dry cous-cous
  • In a separate pan, lightly saute the onion and broccoli in olive oil, together with the paprika and tumeric.
  • These first two steps can be done ahead of time, and the rest done in 5 to 10 minutes just before you want to eat…
  • Add the sauted ingredients to the cous-cous, together with the two cups of water and the miso. Mix thoroughly with a fork.
  • Cover the pan and cook on a very low heat (the cous-cous will take up the water very quickly so keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t stick). Keep “fluffing” it with a fork to ensure it doesn’t bind into one big, fat, orange lump.
  • Once the cous-cous has taken up the water (2 or 3 minutes at the most), turn off the heat and leave it covered for a few more minutes
  • Serve into a prewarmed bowl, stirring through the chopped parsley.