Those plum tomatoes were quartered lengthwise and seeded. The seeds were placed in a sieve set over a bowl, and the juice that strained from them was added to the tomato segments. The other components that make the water so crazy are sliced garlic, red pepper flakes, wine, fresh oregano, and fresh parsley. Water is also added to the broth before being left to simmer and reduce for a bit. I chose some thick cod fillets, but any firm, white-fleshed fish would work here. I cut the fish into portions and seasoned each before placing the pieces in the broth. The fish cooks quickly, and I spooned some broth over the fillets to help cook the tops which weren’t submerged. When opaque, the fish was removed to a platter, the broth was spooned over top, olive oil was drizzled on the fish, and chopped parsley was added for garnish.
With wine, garlic, and red pepper flakes, of course this is going to be good. The simple broth takes on a lot of flavor in a short amount of time, and it’s perfect for subtle white fish. Have some crusty bread on hand to swipe through the broth as well. Whether you’re entertaining or just planning weekday meals, you can’t go wrong with recipes from Canal House.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Canal House Cooking Volume No. 8: Pronto by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton/Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC.
This classic Neapolitan fish preparation is both delicate and full of flavor. The term acqua pazza (“crazy water” in Italian) refers to both the dish and the poaching broth, which is stained red from tomatoes and aromatic with garlic and herbs. It’s one of those satisfying dishes, like San Francisco’s cioppino, created by fishermen who would make it on board with their catch of the day and a few other simple ingredients. We like to use black sea bass or red snapper, but any non-oily white fish will do nicely.
1 pound ripe plum tomatoes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 sprigs fresh oregano
1 bunch fresh parsley
Salt and pepper
4 black sea bass or red snapper filets (about 4 ounces each)
Quarter the tomatoes lengthwise. Working over a sieve set over a bowl, scoop out the tomato seeds with your fingers. Put the tomatoes in the bowl with any of the strained juice and discard the seeds in the sieve.
Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the sliced garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook until the oil is fragrant and well-flavored yet the garlic remains pale blonde, 3–4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juice, the wine, oregano, half of the parsley, and 4 cups cool water. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and simmer the broth until it is slightly reduced, 15–20 minutes.
Chop the remaining parsley leaves (discarding the stems). Add the parsley, a generous pinch of salt, and some pepper to the broth. Season the fish filets with salt, then place them skin side up in the simmering broth (the fish will not be submerged). Cook until the fish is opaque, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Remove and discard the sprigs of oregano and parsley.
Use a fish spatula to arrange the fish flesh side up on a deep serving platter or on 4 deep plates. Taste the broth and adjust the seasonings. Spoon the tomatoes and broth over the fish and drizzle with some olive oil.
I am a member of the Amazon Affiliate Program.