In a bowl mix the uncooked couscous with 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Rub the couscous between your fingers to fully incorporate these ingredients.
In a enamel casserole or couscousiere heat 2 tablespoons of oil over low heat. Add the onions and begin to cook them to a translucent stage. Without browning the onion, add the saffron, tomato paste, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Stir these ingredients quickly and combine well, but take care to avoid burning the tomato paste by working quickly at this stage.
Pour in the hot enriched stock and bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer. Place the couscous in its steamer over the simmering broth and allow to simmer gently for 50 minutes, until the couscous has cooked.
At the end of the required cooking time for the couscous, season the shrimp with salt and pepper, place the peeled shrimp into the simmering broth under the couscous and cook for 3 to 4 additional minutes. The shrimp will gently poach. Two minutes before serving add the calamari.
Serve the seafood on a bed of couscous, ladle on some broth, and sprinkle the crushed almonds over the whole dish.
Enriched fish stock: After peeling the shrimp, reserve the shells but discard the vein. Put the fish stock (broth or clam juice may be substituted) into a pot and bring to a gentle boil, lower to a simmer and then add the reserved shrimp shells. Cook together for 20 minutes before straining out the shells and any other solids. Set the enriched stock aside and discard the shells. Keep warm to finish the couscous or cool and refrigerate promptly.
Copyright Michael Lomonaco 1997