Jan 31

Moroccan Beef & Pearl Couscous Salad

Moroccan Beef & Pearl Couscous Salad1(copy)




HOLY COW!! When I set out to make this dish I quite literally went in blind. Straight off the bat, I will tell you right now I don’t know how to prepare couscous, seriously. I tried it once, the smaller grainy one, and I did not like the texture at all. I was at a Persian restaurant in Singapore on my sister’s birthday … and she ordered the fine grain type and I went, “What is THAT?!”  See, total ignorance to food back in the day. Anyway, since that dinner party I never bothered learning how to cook it at home. However, my opinion of the humble couscous changed the day I discovered pearl couscous, with a larger grain and a nicer “feel” in the mouth … it doesn’t feel like I am eating sand with my dinner.



Since setting out on this salad month, I have successfully created a total of seven salads in the span of fourteen days … that’s like a new recipe every two days. I feel like I have had a very productive month, and the recipes themselves have all come out better than expected. And so have the photos! As you know I struggle every single time with my photography and I get upset when they don’t turn out well. I cook well … I don’t take good photographs of my products. C’est la vie. I’ll get there eventually.




Moroccan Beef & Pearl Couscous Salad8




When I sat down over the weekend thinking about the last two dishes I was to feature for this month I thought long and hard. I knew I lacked a beef salad, so I did some research and even got R. involved. We spent a couple of hours flicking through various pictures online trying to get inspiration, but the majority of beef salads out there were all of Thai origin. It seemed everyone was doing a spicy Thai beef salad … some with noodles and some with fresh leaves and herbs. Now I have already featured a Thai noodle salad last week, Larb Moo with Bean Thread Noodle Salad, so I wasn’t going to go down that road again. Everything else simply did not appeal. However, looking at all those pictures of food did get the creative juices flowing. From southeast Asia I slowly moved across the continent and ended up in north Africa. Instantly I got a sense of Moroccan spices in my head; ideas swirled and eventually this recipe was born.




Moroccan Beef & Pearl Couscous Salad5




I had two pieces of marbled fillets dry-aging in the fridge for about a week, now all I needed to do was track down pearl couscous in the store along with the other bits and bobs that goes along with this recipe. The beef fillets were leftovers from a stew I made last Tuesday. I used the tough, sinewy bits for the stew (yay, for pressure cooking!) and the nicer fillets I carefully cut off and chilled them, uncovered, in the back of the fridge for seven days. I lightly salted them on both sides to prevent them from going off, and also to keep their surface nice and dry. This was not an expensive cut of meat at all ~ I pay € 7.80 per kilo for this cut. No idea what the name of this part of meat is called, but here in the Netherlands it is known as ‘stooflappen’ … stewing beef … or so it tells me on the label at the butchers.





  • 2 marbled beef fillets
  • Moroccan dry rub
  • salt



  • 1 cup pearl couscous
  • 1 medium red onion
  • ½ red pepper, sliced thinly
  • ½ zucchini, sliced thinly
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ ground coriander
  • ½ ground cinnamon
  • bunch of flat leaf parsley
  • bunch of fresh coriander leaves
  • bunch of fresh mint leaves
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • marinated black olives
  • 10 cherry tomatoes



Now, cooking steaks is not one of my strong suits either … but I think I managed it pretty well today. I followed all the rules and the steaks turned out brilliantly, even R. was impressed. Lightly sprinkle on the dry rub onto each fillet. In the meantime, heat a cast iron skillet on high heat until it starts smoking. Now add a tablespoon of groundnut oil (something that survives high temperatures) and place the fillets in to sear. Lower the heat after a minute and LEAVE THEM ALONE! No turning, no flipping, no peaking underneath. Just leave them to cook. After about 8 mins, flip the fillets ONCE and once only. Cook for 5 mins, then turn off the fire. Cover loosely with foil and leave the meat in there to rest. I realise I should have taken photos of the meat here, but I didn’t. DOH!




For the couscous, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan. Sautée the onions, peppers, zucchini and garlic for a couple of minutes. Then add in the couscous … toss with the veggies and oil. Now pour in the hot veggie or chicken stock, cover the pot and allow to cook through. When done the grains should be loose and not clumpy, cooked all the way through without being overly mushy. How I managed to achieve this on my first go is beyond me. Fluff up the couscous with a fork and allow to cool to room temperature.




Moroccan Beef & Pearl Couscous Salad4




Chop up the fresh herbs, red onion, slice the tomatoes and mix it all in with the couscous. At this stage, some might want to add a little lemon juice, but I am not too crazy over the acidity, so I left it out of the equation. Toss in whole black olives (yum!) and a teeny tiny drizzle of the olive oil that came with the olives. Taste for seasoning.



Now plate up by creating a bed of couscous on the serving platter. Slice the beef into strips, against the grain, and place them over the couscous. Oh my god, that beef tasted soooo good, I was nicking off pieces as I sliced into it. For a cheap cut of meat it sure turned out tender enough for a salad. Garnish with extra leafy greens and you are all set to impress.




Moroccan Beef & Pearl Couscous Salad10




Moroccan Beef & Pearl Couscous Salad11




~ Enjoy ~


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