Acqua pazza: Poached snapper recipe

Acqua pazza: Poached snapper recipe

The Italian name for this dish, “acqua pazza”, translates to “crazy water” and the key is making sure that “crazy water” is well seasoned. If it doesn’t taste pleasant before the fish is added, adjust the seasoning.


¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 bird’s eye chillies

4 large tomatoes, roughly chopped

½ tsp salt 

6 sprigs fresh thyme

handful fresh oregano leaves

700g red snapper fillets (or another flaky white fish like tilapia or flounder), cut into 4 pieces

¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

freshly ground black pepper, to serve

toasted sourdough, to serve


1. Heat the olive oil in a large, lidded frying pan over medium heat and fry the garlic until fragrant. Add the chillies, tomatoes, salt, thyme and oregano and 3 cups of water. Bring to a simmer and cover. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and topping up with a little extra water if it starts to look dry (there should be about 3cm of water in the bottom of the frying pan).

2. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Add the snapper fillets, skin-side up and spoon the “crazy water” over the top. Cover again and poach the snapper for about 3 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets. Scatter the fish with the parsley and grind over a little black pepper. Serve with thick slices of toasted sourdough drizzled with a little olive oil.