Acqua Pazza

Crazy Water


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves

    4 to 6

Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

On the island of Ponza in the Tyrrhenian Sea, the fishermen call any dish that is cooked in a lot of water ‘all’acqua pazza’ - ‘crazy water’. Nobody really knows why, but the name has stuck, and cooking this way with lots of intense flavourings keeps the delicious taste of the fish intact.


  • 75 ml/5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 kg/2 ¼ lb/4 cups canned tomatoes, drained, seeded and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 60 ml/4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 10 ml/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tiny dried, hot red chilli
  • 5 ml/1 tsp sea salt
  • 1.5 kg/3 ¼ lb white fish fillets and/or steaks, such as cod or haddock
  • crusty bread, to serve (optional)


  1. Pour 1.5 litres/2 ½ pints/6 ¼ cups cold water into a large pan. Add the olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, herbs, chilli and salt. Stir well and bring to the boil.

  2. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Add the fish and cook for 5-10 minutes more, or until the fish is cooked through. This will depend on the size of the fillets.

  4. Distribute among warmed dishes and serve, with crusty bread, if you like.