By Hana Asbrink
Updated Sep 10, 2016 @ 8:30 am
Maria Midoes

Most of us know couscous as the dependable, affordable pantry ingredient we have stocked (usually in boxes) in our kitchen cupboards. It makes an easy side, is mild enough to take on a range of accompanying flavors, and its virtually instant cooking time really can’t be beat.

Get ready to throw everything you know about couscous out the window.

New York Shuk is looking to shake up what you might know about couscous and expand your knowledge about the North African and Middle Eastern staple during N.Y.C.’s first-ever Couscous Week, from now until Sept. 12. Ron and Leetal Arazi, the husband-and-wife duo behind New York Shuk, are taking their one-of-a-kind, artisanal couscous to some of the city’s biggest restaurant names to show diners just how they can enjoy real, fresh, hand-rolled couscous in ways you may not have imagined before.

From Upland (seared octopus, roasted red pepper, couscous, almonds, brown butter) to Daniel (lightly smoked warm squab salad with corn couscous), Boulud Sud (chicken tagine with couscous) to the Baccarat Hotel (couscous with Maine lobster salad, above), you’ll see the magical ingredient elevated in both traditional and more innovative dishes.

Sure, the boxed staple can be convenient, but couscous is so much more than just the minuscule balls of semolina you steam up in a matter of minutes. Treat yourself to a little couscous education and if you’re in New York, perhaps even a game-changing meal, courtesy of the Baccarat Hotel's Chef Garett McMahan below.

Chilled Maine Lobster Salad with Local Couscous, Grapefruit, Walnut & Caviar Maple Vinaigrette

Serves: 2


Chilled Maine Lobster:
1 Maine lobster, cut into separate pieces (tail, small claws, large claws)

Cauliflower Puree:
2 shallots, sliced
2 garlic cloves
2 cups cauliflower, chopped
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 ounce fresh thyme
1 ounce fresh bay leaf
Whole unsweetened chocolate, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
About 1 cup vegetable stock, enough to cover cauliflower

Caviar Maple Vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons blended oil
Walnut oil, to taste
Chives, to garnish
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons caviar

Couscous Salad:
1 cup fresh New York Shuk couscous (or dried, if unavailable)
3 tablespoons grapefruit segments, from about half a grapefruit
3 tablespoons grapefruit juice
Italian parsley, to garnish
Chives, to garnish
2 tablespoons toasted chopped walnuts
Salt and pepper, to taste
Walnut oil, to taste


1. Prepare the lobster: Bring a pot of water with a steamer basket to boil. Steam the lobster pieces according to the following times (tail: 4 minutes; small claws: 5 minutes; large claws: 6 minutes). Remove from steamer and place in fridge until fully chilled, about 15 minutes.

2. Prepare the cauliflower puree: In a pan over medium heat, sweat shallots an garlic; add cauliflower pieces. Add bay leaf and thyme. Cover with vegetable stock. Reduce and add whole chocolate to taste. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Prepare the caviar maple vinaigrette: Whisk the vinegar in a bowl with blended oil. Add walnut oil, salt and pepper to taste and reserve. Add the chives and caviar right before serving.

4. Prepare the couscous salad: For each cup of couscous, use 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring to boil in saucepan and season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Arrange all components on two plates. Drizzle with vinaigrette and season with additional salt, pepper, and walnut oil, to taste.