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Sea Bream Acqua Pazza – or Dorade in Crazy Water?

This week has been marked by crazy weather here on the Eastern Seaboard of the USA. It started with an epic snowstorm in the early hours of Sunday morning, however, by Wednesday, we found ourselves basking in positively Mediterranean, or perhaps, Caribbean climes, when the Sun came out and the mercury rose to over 26c / 80f on my deck

The crazy temperature change inspired me to cook a classic Italian dish that I usually save for a Summer’s evening on vacation (hopefully in Italy) but which works just as well year round. A delicious easy to make poached white fish, using those classic Italian ingredients: basil, tomatoes olive oil and garlic

There are many different versions of Acqua Pazza – literally ‘Crazy Water’ (named after the bubbling and spitting combination of olive oil and water in which the fish is cooked). However, the recipe I use and share on the blog today is, I think, one of the easiest to make for even the novice cook and it will always impress with it’s delicious sweet sauce imbuing the fish with that magic of the Italian rustic cuisine

Just 8 Ingredients

Just 8 ingredients!

Ingredients (for 2 – 4)

  • 12 x tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 x Whole Sea Bream / known as Dorade in the USA (Tip 1: clean and scale leaving the head and tail and fins on for flavor. Tip 2: you can also use Sea Bass, or another meaty white fish)
  • 4 x garlic cloves, chop roughly
  • 20 x cherry tomatoes (I used around 25 grape tomatoes per fish as they were very small)
  • A generous handful of basil leaves, tear them roughly
  • A couple of decent pinches of sea salt
  • 1 x small red chili (seeds removed), finely diced
  • 400 ml / 13.5 fl oz water
  • A fresh hunk of ciabatta to serve
Sauce Ingredients on the Chopping Board

Sauce ingredients all diced and chopped…


  • Heat the olive oil in a large heavy base skillet / frying pan until hot, then add the whole fish one side down quickly followed by the garlic, tomatoes, chili, basil and salt
  • Then add the water, turning down the heat slightly to a energetic simmer once the sauce mixture is hot. The sauce should partially cover the fish
  • Cook the fish for 7 minutes per side until the eyes whiten, which indicates the fish is cooked through.
  • Then, remove the fish and place on a warm serving dish
  • Turn up the heat of the pan and cook the remaining tomato based sauce for a further 30 seconds to 1 minute, then immediately pour over each fish
  • Serve straight away with a hunk of the ciabatta bread to mop up the delicious tomato basil garlic sauce

Buon Appetito!

Ready to Eat

Ready to Eat – washed down with a glass of Pinot Grigio

By the way, back to the usual winter weather as I write cold and miserable…..roll on Summer!


    • Thanks- we like whole fish recipes too- & this one is easy to make ! Please send us a photo on our Facebook page or Instagram feed (@taste2taste) if you make it! Enjoy! Simon ๐ŸŸ๐Ÿ˜‹

      Liked by 1 person

      • simsalb

        It’s a classic I haven’t made in a while and poaching fish is so different from my usual grill and sear approach


    • simsalb

      It is a really easy and fast recipe to make and has a lovely rustic Italian seaside feel to it as well


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