“The dragon in shallow water is the sport of shrimps”

Gordon Reece, The Spectator


I experimented with this Egyptian dish as part of the collection of recipes from countries where Wellington fought Napoleon (it being the anniversary of Waterloo), and it turned out to be very successful.

It works well as a starter (in which case it will feed double the number of people) but it’s just as good as a main course, for lunch.


Recipe for Egyptian Couscous With Garlic Shrimp

Serves 4 as a main course


  • 350g/12 oz cooked and peeled prawns
  • 90g/4 oz cooked and peeled brown shrimp (if you can’t find shrimp you can use all prawns of course – about 450g/1 lb altogether – but it isn’t as good)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 2 or 3 stalks of tarragon, chopped
  • 125g/4 oz trimmed spring onions – chopped – use about an inch (2 cm) of the green too
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts, dry fried
  • 320g/11 oz/1⅓ cups couscous
  • 400 ml/1⅔ cups stock made with that amount of just boiled water and 3 chicken stock cubes
  • 80 ml/⅓ cup lemon juice (approximately juice of two lemons)
  • 60 ml/¼ cup melted butter – four or so knobs
  • 160-200g/6-8 oz baby washed spinach
  • slivers of parmesan or pecorino cheese


  1. Add the prawns and shrimp to the oil, garlic, tarragon and celery salt and marinate for half an hour or so.
  2. Put the couscous in a bowl, and add the chicken stock and the spring onions. Cover with a cloth, leave to absorb the stock for five minutes, add the pine nuts and then fluff up.
  3. Add the lemon juice to the melted butter.
  4. Gently heat up the shrimps and prawns in their marinade – once hot enough keep warm – if you cook them they will become tough. Add half the melted butter/lemon and stir.
  5. Divide the spinach between four plates. 
  6. Top with the couscous, and top that with the prawn mix.
  7. Pour over the rest of the melted butter/lemon, and artfully distribute the slivers of cheese.