Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Check Icon Print Icon Note Icon Heart Icon Filled Heart Icon Single Arrow Icon Double Arrow Icon Hamburger Icon TV Icon Close Icon Sorted Hamburger/Search Icon

Acqua Pazza (Fish in Crazy Water)

Scott Phillips

Servings: 4

In this Italian dish, fish is gently poached in “crazy water” flavored with fennel, garlic, and tomato. Any firm, flaky white fish fillets will do.


  • 1-1/2 lb. skinless firm white fish fillets, such as cod or red snapper, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1-1/2 tsp. ground fennel
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil; more as needed
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, halved, cored, and very thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 14- to 15-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup good-quality dry vermouth
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 340
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 100
  • Fat (g): 11
  • Saturated Fat (g): 1.5
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1.5
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 8
  • Cholesterol (mg): 65
  • Sodium (mg): 500
  • Carbohydrates (g): 14
  • Fiber (g): 4
  • Protein (g): 29


  • Coat the fish with the ground fennel and season liberally with salt. Combine the oil, garlic, and pepper flakes in a heavy-duty 5- to 6-quart heavy-duty pot set over medium-high heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic begins to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Add the onion, sliced fennel, and 1/2 tsp. salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, 4 to 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes, vermouth, and 2 cups of water and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the flavors have blended, 4 to 6 minutes. Season to taste with salt.
  • Nestle the fish in a single layer in the broth, cover the pot, and cook until the fish is opaque and just beginning to flake, 5 to 8 minutes. Divide the fish and vegetables among 4 wide shallow bowls, spoon the broth around it, and top with the basil.


Rate or Review

Reviews (1 review)

  • User avater
    rbhartman | 08/15/2017

    My wife and I loved this dish! We subscribe to the Fine Cooking Make-It-Tonight series and when we saw this recipe in the group, we new we had to try it with all of the wonderful ingredients in the dish. Because we both enjoy bold flavors, we amped up the red pepper flakes. The fennel, onion, tomatoes and vermouth all came together swimmingly!

Rate this Recipe

Write a Review


View All


Follow Fine Cooking on your favorite social networks

We hope you’ve enjoyed your free articles. To keep reading, subscribe today.

Get the print magazine, 25 years of back issues online, over 7,000 recipes, and more.