Pesce all'acqua Pazza

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"Fish in Crazy Water". An old fisherman's dish from the Amalfi coast, where they would cook a whole fish with just a few aromatic ingredients into a pan, and the result is a flavorful, juicy fish, which is truly spectacular! It's so easy to make, and I'll show you a trick to prepare the fish, so it's easy to filet once cooked!


Serves 4

1 each 2-3 pound Red snapper, Orata, or Bass, scaled and gutted by your fishmonger

4 parsley sprigs, whole

1 sprig marjoram

½ bulb fennel, thinly sliced

q garlic clove, sliced

1-teaspoon Calabrese chilies chopped or red pepper flakes

1-bulb spring onions, or shallots

1 rib celery, sliced

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

½ cup white wine

½ cup water

½ pint whole grape tomatoes

¾ cup cooked small potatoes, cut in half

¼ cup Ligurian, or Nicoise olives

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Fruity EVOO for finishing


Pre-heat oven at 375°.

  1. Rinse the fish and make sure to remove any traces of blood. Dry the fish with paper towels.
  2. Using a filet knife, remove the dorsal, and anal fins, along with pectoral fin and part of the collar with scissors. (Please watch video for demo).
  3. Season and rub them with salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil and inside the cavity.
  4. Lay the fish in a roasting pan large enough to accommodate the entire fish.
  5. To the pan add the parsley and marjoram sprigs, sliced fennel, garlic, chilies, spring onions and uncut tops and remaining extra virgin olive oil.
  6. Place roasting pan in oven. Roast for 10 minutes then add the white wine and grape tomatoes to the pan. Place back in oven for another 15 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and let rest.
  8. Place whole fish onto a warm serving platter and spoon the sauce over the fish. To remove the filets from the fish, run a fish or butter knife down the spine from the head to the tail which lifts the meat off the bones. Flip filet over. Remove the pin bones (rib bones) with the tip of the knife. Lift the spine off the bottom filet (it will come away in one whole piece) and remove the pin bones from the bottom filet.