Pesce all'Acqua Pazza

I first had this dish at a small restaurant in Positano on the Amalfi Coast called O’Capurale and was blown away by how flavorful yet light it was. Pesce all’Acqua Pazza means Fish in Crazy Water. Many American interpretations of this dish seem to take this translation extremely literal. They really accentuate the “crazy”, using it as an excuse to clean out the refrigerator and add all kinds of ingredients to flavor the water. I am not sure of the origins of the name, but I do know that all it needs is a simple flavoring of garlic, herbs, tomato, salt and a pinch of hot pepper as presented here.

Be sure to serve this with lots of good crusty Italian bread for soaking up the broth at the end!

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Pesce all'Acqua Pazza

Pesce all’Acqua Pazza

  • Total Time: 50 mins
  • Yield: 4 1x


  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 12 grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • sea salt
  • 2 pounds sea bass or red snapper fillets


  1. In a sauté pan at least two inches deep and large enough to hold the fish in one layer, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and add the garlic and and red pepper flakes and sauté until the garlic is lightly browned.
  2. Add the tomatoes and cook until they start to soften about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the water, parsley and a pinch of salt. Turn the heat down to medium-low and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Place the fish in the pan, skin side down, cover the pan and cook until the fish is cooked through, 15-20 minutes.
  5. Transfer the fish to warm plates, pour a little of the crazy water over and around the fish, making sure to include some tomatoes. Garnish with a little more fresh parsley and serve.
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 35 mins

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