Pesce all'Acqua Pazza - Fish in Crazy Water

Pesce all'Acqua Pazza - Fish in Crazy Water

Pesce all'Acqua Pazza - Fish in Crazy Water

Pesce all'Acqua Pazza (Fish in Crazy Water) is a rustic Italian fish stew (or soup if you prefer!) where you create a simple yet flavourful broth (the crazy water!) and poach white fish or seafood in it. In true peasant style, the poaching water is not discarded but becomes a feature of the meal.

My husband is Italian and a very keen fisherman so we make this every few weeks. It's a deceptively simple dish that is absolutely delicious.


Fillets of firm white fish (I have used whiting fillets in this dish)

Acqua Pazza (Crazy Water)

1 red or brown onion, sliced
1 - 2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 - 4 punnets cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 large red capsicum (bell pepper), cored and sliced. (The large, mild red bullhorn chillies work really well in this dish too!)
Fresh or dried red chilli to taste. I recommend adding a little at first and then adding more at the end if you want more heat. 
1/4 cup black olives
1/4 cup green olives
2 - 3 tablespoons capers
1 handful flat leaf parsley, sliced
1 handful dill fronds, sliced
1 handful basil leaves, torn
Water or fish stock (I personally don't use stock for this dish as I can create a flavourful "crazy water" without it).
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste


Place onion and garlic in a large pan with 1 - 2 tablespoons olive oil and cook over low heat for a few minutes. Add in sliced tomatoes, casicum and chilli, increase heat and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Now add water or stock so there is about 2 inches (5cm) in the pan, bring to boil for a a minute, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Add olives, then add fish fillets skin side up.
Gently spoon the "crazy water" and tomatoes over the fish fillets and let them poach for a few minutes until cooked.
At this point taste the crazy water and adjust the seasoning - add in salt, pepper and extra chilli, if desired.
Add in capers, parsley, dill and basil just before serving.

Ladle carefully into bowls to serve, being careful not to break up the fish fillets.