PEARL COUSCOUS WITH SHRIMP AND CLAMS
1 ½ hours
400g raw head-on, shell-on shrimp or tiger prawns (preferably 12 extrajumbo shrimp or king-size prawns, but any size will work)
7 tbsp (105 millilitres) olive oil 5 roughly chopped garlic cloves, plus 1 crushed garlic clove
Salt and black pepper
1 small fennel bulb, finely chopped (about 1 heaping cup)
300g cherry tomatoes
2 lemons, 1 finely shaved to get 5 strips of peel and squeezed to get 1 tablespoon juice, and the other cut into wedges for serving
5 tarragon sprigs (about 10g)
2 tbsp tomato paste
⅔ cup (150 millilitres) Pernod (or a similar anise liqueur)
1¼ cups (300 millilitres) chicken or vegetable stock
2 tsp fennel seeds
¼ tsp red-chilli flakes
1¼ cups (200 g) pearl (or giant) couscous
250g small clams (about 12), such as Dorset, littleneck or Manila, rinsed well
1. Twist the heads off the shrimp and place the heads in a medium bowl. Leaving the tails attached, peel off the shells, add them to the same bowl and set aside. Devein the shrimp, then add them to a medium bowl with 1 tablespoon oil, 1 crushed garlic clove, ¼ teaspoon salt and plenty of pepper. Mix together and set shrimp aside to marinate for 30 minutes or so.
2. Meanwhile, heat a large saute pan, for which you have a lid, over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil, the chopped fennel and ⅛ teaspoon salt. Fry for about 5 minutes, stirring every now and then, until browned. Transfer the fennel to a plate, wipe the pan clean and return to a high heat. Add the tomatoes and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, tossing the pan every now and then until charred in places. Set the tomatoes aside. Leave the pan to cool for a couple of minutes, then wipe it clean and return to a medium heat.
3. Add 3 tablespoons (45 millilitres) oil to the pan along with the lemon peel, tarragon and the 5 chopped garlic cloves. Slowly fry for 5 minutes until the garlic is golden and the tarragon becomes bright green and crisp. Remove half of the tarragon and set aside, to serve. 4. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the shrimp shells and heads and fry for 7 minutes, stirring every so often until crisp and pink, adjusting the heat as necessary so the garlic doesn’t begin to burn. Add the tomato paste and ½ teaspoon salt, and fry for another 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
5. Carefully pour in the Pernod and let it bubble away for a minute (it may flame), then add the stock and 2½ cups (600 millilitres) of water and simmer gently for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Use a potato masher to crush the shrimp heads a few times as they cook to release as much flavour as possible.
6. Meanwhile, in a separate small pan over medium heat, add the fennel seeds and 2 tablespoons oil and cook until the seeds begin to pop. Set aside until ready to serve.
7. Strain the stock, discarding the shells, heads and aromatics, then return to the same pan. (You should have about 3¼ cup, or 775 millilitres, stock.) Add the lemon juice, chili flakes, cooked fennel, ¾ of the charred tomatoes and plenty of pepper and cook at a bare simmer for 5 minutes, or until the tomatoes begin to split.
8. Stir in the couscous, bring to a simmer then reduce the heat to medium. Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes, until the couscous is cooked through but still retains a bite.
9. Add the clams, cover the pan and cook until they all open, 4 to 5 minutes. Top with the remaining charred tomatoes and set aside while you fry the shrimp.
10. While the clams cook, place a large, non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Once it’s very hot, add half the shrimp, so as not to overcrowd the pan. Fry for about 1 ½ minutes on each side, or until crisp and golden-brown on the outside and cooked inside, then repeat with the remaining shrimp.
11. Arrange the shrimp, along with the garlic and any oil, over the couscous in the pan, then drizzle the fennel seed oil over everything. Top with the fried tarragon and serve with the lemon wedges alongside.