Couscous di Pesce – The Best Seafood Couscous from Sicily

Welcome back to my kitchen!

At the beginning of September I always remember my holidays in Sicily and its absolutely amazing food.

Mom and I eating cannoli in Palermo

Eating awesome cannoli with my mom in Palermo

A few years back, I went to Sicily with my mom. We did a round trip with my mom’s car and dog and apart from seeing a lot of sights, we dove into the varied Sicilian cuisine.mom and a black ink mouth

My mom’s enthusiastic smile after eating ink linguine, Linguine al nero di seppia.

For those who know me, I LOVE seafood. Therefore, when we went to the province of Marsala (famous for its dessert wine) and for couscous.couscous in Marausa

So, after trying the most awesome couscous, ever. Here’s the recipe I made at home.

The recipe is not very difficult, if you skip the couscous making part, but it takes quite a lot of time. My advice, get some family members or some friends to help you out to speed up the process.

First of all, you can make your own couscous, but in order to do so, you need to be able to get fresh flour right from the mill. I did not have access to it, so I used the couscous you buy at the store.


1. For the couscous:

2 cups of couscous

20 g freshly chopped parsley

50 g onion

5 g lemon zest



2. For the fish soup:

200 g red scorpion fish (or any other fish for soup)

200 g tub gurnard (or any other firm fish like pangasius)

230 g San Marzano tomatoes

1 clove of garlic

60 g onion

30 g carrot

25 g celery

20g parsley

30g tomato purée

Extra Virgin Olive Oil



3. For the fish:

200 g shrimps

125 g mussels

15 g scallion

15g parsley

Zest of a lemon

1 clove of garlic

50 ml white wine

1 chili pepper

Olive Oli



4. For the octopus:

300 g octopus

100 g San Marzano tomatoes

1 clove of garlic

½ onion

Fresh basil



Olive oil

75 ml white wine

1 chili pepper



5. For the garlic pesto:

13 g garlic

25 g breadcrumbs

38 ml garlic


Chili pepper

For the couscous (nr. 1): Finely chop the onion, the garlic, parsley and the carrot.

Mix the onion, the parsley and the lemon zest. Add pepper and olive oil and mix in the couscous. Add boiling water and and leave to rest. Set aside.

For the fish soup (nr. 2): Julienne the onion. Stir fry the onion and garlic in olive oil. Now add the chopped carrot, the parsley and the chopped celery. Clean the fish and add the heads and tails of the fishes (keep the meat aside). Also add the chopped tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Do not forget to add the shrimps and mussels a few minutes before removing from the fire.

Mix in the tomato purée in a bit of water and add the mixture to the soup. Cover the soup with water and put a lid on. Let simmer on a low flame for approximately one hour. Every now and then, check if there is still enough water, if not, add some water.

For the octopus (nr. 4): Put the octopus in a casserole with the spices, the garlic roughly chopped, the onion, cut into big pieces, and the tomatoes, halved. Add the wine, the oil, salt, pepper and the chopped chili pepper. Cover the pot with a lid and cook on low heat for about 45 minutes.

For the fish (nr. 3): Take the meat you had previously set aside and cut it into pieces. Thinly chop the onion, garlic and parsley. Put the fish into a frying pan with olive oil and the ingredients and the lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper. Stir fry for a few minutes.

Take the chili and the garlic and fry it with some olive oil. Add the mussels and cook until they open. Throw away the liquid that comes out the mussels and fry some more with the wine. Set aside.

Filter the soup to remove all the chunks. Pour the soup into a sauce pan and set aside for serving.

Put the couscous into a tajine or on a big serving plate. Add a bit of soup, leaving the remaining for serving.

For the pesto (nr. 5): In a mortar, mash the garlic, the breadcrumbs, the herbs and the chili. Add the olive oil and work until you have a smooth sauce. You can use a mixer or a blender, if you want to speed things up.

Cut the octopus into pieces and put it on top of the couscous. Add the remaining fish, shrimps and mussels on top of it. Drizzle with some chopped parsley and pour a bit of soup on top.

Serve the couscous and the soup. When you place the couscous on each plate, each guest can pour some of the soup on top, depending on their personal preference – more or less wet. I personally prefer it a bit on the wetter side.


I know, it seems like a lot of work and an endless endeavour, but it will be worth it.

Have you ever tried couscous di pesce? Do you know this recipe? Do you know any recipes from Sicily? If so, which one is your favourite? Let me know in the comments below.




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