Thai-Style Fish and Creamy Couscous Packets

What better way to come off a long weekend than with a giveaway, right? And if that isn’t great in and of itself, you’re getting a double whammy today: giveaway + amazingly delicious and healthy meal. I could not believe how tasty these little foil packets filled with tender couscous and fish turned out. Then, with a drizzle of the flavor-boosted creamy coconut sauce this meal transforms into fabulous, fabulous, fabulous.

My entire family is still raving about this meal and my kids thought we gained instant extra cool family points for eating a meal out of tin foil (most of them chose to eat it straight out of the packet instead of nicely plated like in the picture – hello, real life). Not only is it crazy good, but it is so revolutionarily easy, you’re going to be doing back flips (don’t hurt yourself). The entire meal can be quickly made ahead up to 24 hours in advance and popped into the refrigerator to be baked whenever your heart desires.

But don’t thank me, thank the brilliant minds over at America’s Test Kitchen (which brings me to the awesome giveaway part). They’ve come up with this new cookbook: The Make-Ahead Cook. And if you know me and my love for make-ahead meals, you won’t be surprised that this book speaks to my soul. It’s filled with chapter after chapter of unbelievable recipes (I’ve made several already), all armed with make-ahead tips that will knock your socks off. What you get is basically 8 cookbooks in one. I am loving this book. Loving it. It is going to be a lifesaver for all those busy home cooks out there who need healthful, delicious dinners on the table, like, now.

Thai-Style Fish and Creamy Couscous Packets

The generous folks at ATK provided me with a copy and want to do the same to one of you. So to enter the giveaway for a make-ahead book all for yourself, go HERE! What a smart, practical, delicious cookbook: everything I’ve ever wanted in one, that’s for sure.

And while you wait on pins and needles to see if you’ve won, make these fish and couscous foil packets. I’m not even kidding you – the flavors in this recipe completely wowed me and I’m pretty sure I want to eat fish and couscous covered in a creamy coconut and cilantro sauce baked in a foil packet for the rest of my days on this lovely earth.

If you’re scared of crimping foil into packet form, take my hand. You can do this. Not that it’s rocket science or anything but I took it upon me to take a few pictures of the very intricate process. Think of this meal as a totally upscale, gourmet tin foil dinner. Fold and seal that foil like you’ve been doing it all your life. It’s easy. And totally worth it when you unseal the packets to reveal utter deliciousness for dinner.

Thai-Style Fish and Creamy Couscous Packets

Thai-Style Fish and Creamy Couscous Packets

Yield: Serves 6

Thai-Style Fish and Creamy Couscous Packets

The original recipe calls for halibut which is hard to find for me (and a bit too expensive when I can find it) so while it would be delicious, I found that other mild white fish (thick fillets) work great, like these hake fillets I found at Costco. Also, I increased some components (not all) of the recipe to feed more than 4 since my family is larger than that, but you could decrease the amounts in the sauce and the number of fish fillets if you want to serve less - be adventurous, play around; this recipe is very forgivable.


  • 1 3/4 cups couscous
  • 2 1/4 cups boiling water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 can light or regular coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 6 skinless halibut or hake fillets, about 6 ounces each (see note above)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar


  1. In a medium bowl combine the couscous and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Pour the boiling water over the top and immediately cover with plastic wrap. Let the couscous sit until the liquid is absorbed and the couscous is tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover, fluff with a fork and season to taste with additional salt and pepper if needed. Let the couscous cool completely.
  2. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together 1/3 cup room-temperature water, coconut milk, cilantro, fish sauce, ginger, garlic and pepper flakes.
  3. Lay out six 14- by 12-inch sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil (or use two layers of regular foil). Lightly spray the centers of each with nonstick cooking spray.
  4. Pat the fish dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Divide the cooled couscous evenly among each of the foil pieces, mounding it in the center of each piece. Place one fish fillet on top of the couscous and spoon about a tablespoon of the sauce over the top.
  5. Bring the long sides of the foil together and crimp down the entire length (see the pictures in the post) leaving as much headroom above the fish as possible. Fold in one of the short sides and crimp tightly; repeat with the other side.
  6. Place all of the foil packets on a large, rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate them and the remaining coconut sauce for up to 24 hours.
  7. To serve, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the rimmed baking sheet with the foil packets in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes, until the fish is cooked through (and registers 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer). Let the packets rest for about 5 minutes.
  8. Microwave the refrigerated coconut sauce for about a minute until warmed through. Stir in the rice vinegar.
  9. Transfer the fish packets to individual plates and open carefully to avoid any escaping steam. Slide the contents onto each plate. Drizzle warm sauce over the fish and couscous and serve immediately.

Recipe Source: adapted slightly from America’s Test Kitchen The Make-Ahead Cook

32 Responses to Thai-Style Fish and Creamy Couscous Packets {Make-Ahead Meal}

  1. Mckenna says:

    I couldnt find any reasonably priced white fish at costco or winco, could I use salmon?

  2. Natasha says:

    This recipe was light, easy, fresh and delicious! Thank you for a new yummy twist on fish!

  3. Jillee says:

    To those who love Tilapia for the taste (and the cost). I made this yesterday, minus the packets. I had planned this meal into my weekly menu, but I was in a hurry, and not looking for a make-ahead meal the day I decided to make it.

    It took 15 minutes from start to finish on the table!

    I made the couscous as detailed above and set it aside. I turned my oven on broil, covered an 18 inch x 26 inch pan with one layer of foil, and lightly sprayed it with cooking spray. I arranged 6 large tilapia fillets on the foil, made the sauce in the recipe above and spooned about 1/4 cup onto each fillet

    I broiled the fillets for about 9 minutes, checking on them every 3 minutes. I added 1 TBSP rice vinegar to the leftover sauce and heated it up in the microwave for 1 1/2 minutes.

    We served the fish over couscous and also over rice cooked in chicken broth. I made the rice because I wasn’t sure if my kids would eat the couscous, which they did and loved! Then we ran out of couscous and used rice. Both couscous and rice were wonderful with the fish.

    Mel, yet another amazingly delicious dish! Give me something with fish sauce, coconut milk, and cilantro and it’s a sure winner in our home!!

  4. Erika says:

    This was delicious! Added some halved cherry toms on top of the couscous. The whole family loved it.

  5. Toni says:

    I love using ATK’s recipes–I can always trust them. That trust encourages me to try recipes that are outside of my flavor comfort zone. This recipe qualifies for that category, but I’m definitely trying it soon–I’ve already printed the recipe! Thanks for the preview, Mel. I’m so happy to know that ATK thinks as much of you as I do!

  6. Lucy says:

    We enjoyed this for dinner tonight. My two-year-old was chanting “I love fish!” during dinner. Thanks for giving me the courage to try cooking fish.

  7. Lisa says:

    This was amazing, we loved it! I used cod, and it worked out beautifully 🙂

  8. Lucy says:

    I have never cooked fish before, but I bought frozen hake at Costco. I’m excited to try it. I noticed another commenter did not have luck pan frying fish straight from the freezer. Just wondering, Mel, if you thawed the fish before assembling the foil poackets? My husband has been trying to get me to try cooking fish for a long time. Thanks for helping me get up the courage!

  9. Jami says:

    Made this tonight (or last night, I should say…I just baked it tonight) with cod filets from the frozen section at Costco. I found this recipe to go with it: which added some beautiful color and crunch to the meal. The two dishes were perfect together and the meal was a huge hit with my family. I will definitely be making this again.

  10. April says:

    I noticed your reply to using Talipia. What if the cooking time was decreased, since a thinner filet would cook faster, do you think it would still dry out?

  11. Amy W. says:

    The recipe sounds awesome! Only thing is we don’t do fish… Do you think a thin chicken filet would work? Also, thanks for telling us about that cookbook! Hope I win! 😉 You’re the best!!

    • Mel says:

      Amy W. – Substitutions like that are definitely worth a try but I haven’t done it myself. The chicken would need to be cut quite thin to cook in the same amount of time as the fish. Good luck if you try it!

  12. Teresa R. says:

    I Love ATK. Thanks for sharing another great recipe. My daughter loves fish, so I’ll probably make this tomorrow.

  13. Bev Boyer says:

    This looks and sounds delicious and healthy also. Thanks for the quick make ahead meal. The cookbook would be a nice addition to my collection.

  14. Britany says:

    This meal looks great, I can’t wait to try it! I have never heard of hake, did you find this in the fresh or frozen section at Costco? I am wanting to try this out for dinner tonight 🙂

  15. Kim in MD says:

    I love ATK and own most of their cookbooks. This cookbook looks like a must have addition to my collection! The Thai fish looks amazing!

  16. I, too, have a love for make-ahead meals. Thanks for the chance to win and for the recipe. I have made a similar dish with fish and rice, but I like both the idea of the couscous and the coconut milk. Yum! Thanks, again!

  17. jen says:

    This is brilliant timing. I’ve been looking for ways to squeeze more fish into my fish averse family, starting with mild white fish. And you post this, perfect! I’ve also been reading that flash frozen fillets can be cooked any method straight from the freezer. I’ll give it a whirl and report back when I do. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • jen says:

      Reporting back on cooking fish straight from the freezer… despite what The Kitchn says, this did not work for me. I wasn’t using this recipe, but an old favorite pan fried method. Fish turned out tough and strangely waterlogged in texture. Yuck. Just a heads up in case anybody else was thinking of trying it.

      I’m still stoked to try this thai recipe next time I get my hands on some nice fresh fish.

  18. The fish sounds amazing Mel! – I love coconut milk and coriander so yay for that!

  19. Alison says:

    Yum! I want to make this but trying to eat gluten free. I wonder if Quinoa would work?

  20. Sheree L says:

    Mmm, make-ahead AND Thai? I love anything Thai. I must try this.

  21. This looks seriously yummy! Make-ahead recipes are so convenient when you have little ones, are working, or have dinner guests!

  22. Brianne says:

    Sounds delish!

  23. Liz says:

    Thank you Mel for the nice recipe.

  24. Heather bell says:

    Atk is my favorite. And now we don’t have regular tv so I watch them on amazon prime which made me discover country’s cook, a spin off of atk. Same people but more country cooking. I love it!

  25. Kelly Finger says:

    Would tilapia work in this recipe?

    • Mel says:

      Kelly Finger – I think the tilapia would get dried out since it is such a thinner fillet – this recipe works best with a thick (1 1/2-inch or so) fillet of white fish.

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