It was my second trip to exotic Singapore that I discovered a new market. When my dear friend Emily asked if I wanted to go the “Wet Market,” I envisioned tanks full of fish and creatures from the sea but it was so much more.
We arrived at a bustling market with a vegetable man, a fishmonger, a chicken lady, a fruit man, and a bean curd creation lady. All of these hard working curators of their specialty sold and displayed their wares with such loving care. Being the only pale skinned, tall western women in the market we were greeted with large smiles and broken English. We were on a mission to buy everything we needed to cook a large dinner for our friends later that evening. I picked out a shiny, rose-colored red snapper from the fishmonger. “Ok, ok, you want no skin?” I attempted to explain to him that I wanted it gutted and de scaled but still whole. “Ok, ok, I cut, you come back.” The fish disappeared in a flurry of knives and cutting boards to the prep station. What we ended up getting was a beautiful piece of fish with the head, tail, and bones removed and in a separate bag. I just smiled and said thank you.
Our most successful dish of the dinner was hands down the roasted vegetable couscous side. It is full of Kabocha squash, broccoli, carrots and onions coated in a rich ginger and garlic vinaigrette and nestled in a bed of fluffy couscous. The squash is one of my favorite new vegetables and has a thin rind that does not need to be removed. Japanese Kabocha squash can be hard but is becoming more readily available at specialty markets and Whole Foods. If you can’t find Kabocha a peeled butternut squash will substitute just fine and will need a little more time in the oven to roast until fork tender.
Roasted Vegetable Couscous
½ Japanese Kabocha squash, cut into ¼ inch cubes
1 medium head of broccoli, cut into small florets
2 large carrots, cut into ¼ inch cubes
1 small red onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
Preheat oven to 450o. Place all of the chopped vegetables in a roasting pan. Brush vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss lightly to coat all of the vegetables. Bake for 15 minutes then reduce temperature to 350 and roast for an additional 30 min or until vegetables are fork tender.
1 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup couscous
Bring water and olive oil to a boil. Remove pot from heat. Add couscous and stir. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork.
¼ cup olive oil
½ lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 inch ginger root, grated
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk vigorously until combined.
Toss roasted vegetables with vinaigrette. Serve over couscous.