Fish in Crazy Water

Pesce All’acqua Pazza

Preparation info

  • For

    4

    persons
    • Difficulty

      Medium

Appears in

Marcella Cucina

By Marcella Hazan

Published 1997

  • About

One of the most frequently recurring conversational expressions in the dialect of my native Romagna is anicreid, “I don’t believe it.” That skepticism is a characteristic I share with the people of my region. When a dish has a fanciful name, I resist trying it, feeling that it has been dressed up to cover up a lack of substance.

Had it been up to me, I never would have sampled that Neapolitan creation, fish in crazy water. “What’s crazy water got to do with cooking and anyway, who wants to eat fish in water?” Such were my thoughts, until my friend from Amalfi, Pierino Jovine, one day simply brought the dish to the table without asking or telling. Now, I am the one who goes crazy over it.

Water is what brings together all the seasoning ingredients, the tomatoes, garlic, parsley, chili pepper, salt, and olive oil. They simmer in it for a full 45 minutes, exchanging and compounding their flavors, producing a substance that is denser than a broth, looser, more vivacious, and fresher in taste than any sauce, in which you then cook the fish.