Welcome to “Kitchen Essentials,” a new series from Chowhound where chefs and bartenders from around the country invite viewers into their kitchens and bars, unveiling the five tools that are simply essential to their work.
For Einat Admony, couscous is fundamental to Israeli and North African cooking. It plays a central figure in her West Village restaurant, Kish-Kash, home to housemade couscous hidden under mountains of chicken tagine and Moroccan vegetables. The fluffed-up, soft durum wheat is prepared daily and served warm, a lengthy process that’s antithetical to making the boxed kind purchased from the store.
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The process all starts with a bag of semolina, a flour made from durum wheat. With a little gentle caressing, the semolina transforms from a coarse ball into tender couscous, thanks to a bit of oil, water, and steaming. And while it certainly takes a lot longer than boiling up a box that can be ready in five minutes, Einat promises it’s worth the wait—and that anyone can make their own at home.
To get started, Einat explains that there are five essential tools needed to make homemade couscous. Ahead, Einant shares the tools she uses at Kish-Kash. It’s likely that once you cook your first batch at home you’ll be saying an unenthusiastic goodbye to the boxed stuff at the grocery store—and we totally endorse that sentiment.
Couscous is not couscous without a foundation of semolina. The course, light wheat that’s almost like sand is slowly steamed with oil and water, transforming into fluffy, pebble-sized grains. Buy Now
After the semolina is steamed, Einat uses a large kish kash—reminiscent of a sieve—to pass the grain through and get rid of any irregularities. Buy Now
The semolina spends a good deal of time steaming in a double boiler—one pan filled with water, the other above with semolina. This process is tricky, because if the semolina absorbs too much water it becomes a dough. Steaming it in a double boiler slowly and carefully is the only way the semolina will expand it into properly fluffy grains.Buy Now
Although Einat jokes that during those hot summer days she uses the spray bottle to spritz herself with water, it’s actually essential for making couscous, too. “It’s much easier to spread the water evenly,” she explains. The sprayed water is thin and infrequent enough so that you don’t have to worry about creating chunks of couscous.Buy Now
This long wooden spatula—boasting both a lengthy handle and top—is slightly curved, allowing Einat to stir and turn the couscous, whether it’s in the steamer or she’s pressing it through the kish kash. Buy Now
Header image by Chowhound.