Middle Eastern Couscous
Choose 8 or 48 lbs
Durum Wheat Semolina
Middle Eastern couscous (aka Jerusalem couscous, Israeli couscous, “Ben Gurion’s Rice,” Ptitim) is much larger than traditional Moroccan couscous, with each ball measuring roughly 1/8” in diameter. With this larger size comes a different texture; it is chewy rather than tender.
This couscous is often referred to as “Israeli couscous” in the US because it was originally developed in 1953 as an alternative food to ease rice shortages in Israel (and was actually originally rice shaped). Unlike traditional couscous, which is made by rolling flour until it naturally forms tiny balls, Israeli couscous is actually extruded pasta (similar to penne, spaghetti, etc). After extrusion it is baked for a little extra nuttiness and a longer shelf life.
Many varieties of Middle Eastern couscous available on the market are made with conventional wheat flour. This couscous has been made from pure durum wheat semolina, giving it more body.
Store couscous in an air-tight container in a cool, dry cupboard.
At least a year.
RECIPES & TIPS
The most basic method for cooking Middle Eastern couscous is to simmer it on the stove as you would pasta. Bring a large pot of water to a boil on the stove (roughly 4 cups water for every cup of couscous), add the couscous and let it simmer for eight minutes. Drain the couscous and serve.
Israeli couscous will triple in size during the cooking process, so cook one cup of dry pearls for every three cups of cooked couscous you want.
Israeli couscous is very versatile and can be served similarly to orzo or rice in a host of dishes. Try it as the base of grain salads, stirred into soups or stews, flavored with garlic and onion for a starchy side dish, or as a base for sauces, curries, and stir fried dishes.
Couscous does not have to be cooked in water. Almost any water-like liquid can be used to infuse it with additional flavor (vegetable & chicken stocks or thin soups are the most common choices).
If your finished couscous dish is too dry (or you’d like to add some additional richness and flavor), drizzle on a little high quality extra virgin olive oil just before serving.
Some chefs are experimenting with serving Israeli couscous in syrups and sweet sauces as a component of plated desserts (often as part of a trio or in a little side dish to compliment the main element).