Fish in ‘Crazy Water’ – A Recipe

As the heat of summer subsides, it’s time to welcome back warming soups and stews onto the menu with Sloane Carvell.

Michael, or Mr Fisho as I call him, at The Fisho at Subi Farmers Market, can tell you a thing or two about fish. He is passionate about seafood and has a vast knowledge of the subject to share with you. All his stall’s fish is caught in Australian waters, arrives within a day of being caught and is fresh or snap frozen as soon as it is caught.

In honour of the Subi Spritz festival, I am sharing my recipe for Fish in ‘Crazy Water’ or as it’s known in Italian ‘Pesce all’Acqua Pazza’ which I’ve made with beautiful Robinson Bream from The Fisho. Fortunately, the recipe is not as mad as it sounds. It’s a simple Italian dish, with poached white fish in a light broth of tomatoes, wine and herbs but it packs so much good flavour. It originates from the Amalfi coast where fishermen would cook the catch of the day in seawater and tomatoes. The broth can vary but usually has garlic, tomatoes and herbs like parsley and oregano. It’s lovely with some crusty bread for dipping in the broth.

The Robinson Bream fillets were my fish of choice because they’re easy to steam. You could also use a whole fish for this recipe. Choose a firm white fish like snapper, barramundi or cod.

For wine in this dish a Chardonnay or a dry white blend is good to add depth of flavour to the dish.

Fish in Crazy Water


500g of white firm fish fillets – bream, snapper, barramundi.
I used Robinson Bream fillets from The Fisho.

A bunch of parsley

Half a fennel bulb, finely sliced

6 Roma tomatoes, deseeded and chopped

2 small red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

20ml of white wine

250ml of fish stock or water

4 sprigs of oregano, leaves removed from stem

Salt and cracked pepper for seasoning

Olive oil


  1. Cut the stalks off the parsley and tie about six of them together with some kitchen string. Keep the leaves aside for later.
  2. Sauté the fennel in olive oil in a non-stick pan with a lid big enough to hold the fish. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for about four minutes to soften the fennel.
  3. Add the bunch of tied parsley stalks, chopped tomatoes, white wine, stock and oregano leaves to the pan and bring to boil, then turn down and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle the fish with a little salt and place it in the broth. Cover pan with lid and simmer for about 15 minutes until the fish is white and cooked and not translucent.
  5. Remove the fish and the parsley bundle from the pan. Keep fish warm while you finish the broth.
  6. Chop the remaining parsley leaves and keep some aside for garnish. Add the parsley to the broth and stir in and simmer for about three minutes to reduce the sauce slightly. Check broth and season with salt and cracked pepper if necessary.
  7. To serve, spoon the broth in a shallow soup bowl or platter and top with the fish. Drizzle olive oil and add parsley and serve with lemon wedges and crusty bread.


Recipe images by Craig Kinder.

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