Sea bass in acqua pazza

Let’s say you come home late, you are starving, yet you want a good meal: grab a piece of your favorite fish and make it in acqua pazza, i.e. in crazy water.

Get a loaf of  good French bread to sop up the juices and a  bottle of  decent white wine and you are going to have a great meal. (sauce is made up of white wine, spices and fish juices).

INGREDIENTS: 2 hungry people

  • 1 pound of sea bass steak or your favorite fish
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, organic if possible
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup of small baby potatoes or 1 large baking potato
  • salt, pepper, sumac, ground cumin, thyme
  • olive oil, as needed
  • 1 cup of white wine

The acqua pazza idea and recipe is Italian in origin, of course; but seeing the upheavals and tumult in our Middle-Eastern region these days made me feel that it was perfectly fitting to cook this fish, in an acqua pazza (tr. crazy water).

You can let go of restraint here and throw a bunch of things in your acqua pazza: shrimp, clams, lots of garlic (of course), herbs, some fennel along with the potatoes, anything that comes your way.


  1. Heat some olive oil in a large pan. Throw in the potatoes and a few tablespoons of water and brown them all over, shaking the pot from time to time.
  2. Sprinkle salt, sumac, cumin and thyme on the fish. Mash the garlic cloves with a dash of salt in a mortar.
  3. After 15 minutes, when the potatoes are nearly done, add the fish and brown it for a couple of minutes. Add the tomatoes and the wine and cover the pot;  the liquid should come halfway up the fish, if not add some water.
  4. Let the fish cook in the wine and the steam for 15 minutes, flipping it every so often. Add the garlic the last five minutes of cooking.
  5. When the fish flakes easily, test the potatoes, and serve with a nice crusted French bread.

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  1. Posted March 31, 2011 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

    Bonjour Joumana, voilà un loup qui pour une fois ne me fait pas peur mais plutôt envie. Cette fois ce sera à moi de le ” dévorer “….qui a peur du grand méchant loup, méchant loup….sûrement pas moi. Bisous et passe une bonne soirée

  2. Posted April 1, 2011 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    The Italians come up with the best names for things don’t they. Crazy water – I’ll be using this method soon – the sea bass looks so moist and tender. I hope things are not too unsettled where you are.

  3. Posted April 1, 2011 at 2:24 am | Permalink

    A delicious dish! Simple and so refined.



  4. Posted April 1, 2011 at 3:21 am | Permalink

    crazy water, how perfect for a busy crazy day, oh yes a great loaf for sopping and a glass of wine and the evening is perfect!!


  5. Posted April 1, 2011 at 5:07 am | Permalink

    You are totally right, it is a great recipe for a last minute delicious meal. I like to add basil on mine. Indeed there is a difficult, crazy really, situation in the Mediterranean right now.

  6. Posted April 1, 2011 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    Great looking dish..

  7. Posted April 1, 2011 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    Marion would love this meal, Joumana. I’m intrigued by the inclusion of sumac. I’ve never tried it before. I’ll need to look for it. In the mean time, it’s 6:30 AM and I have this sudden urge for sea bass:)

    Thanks for sharing…

  8. Posted April 1, 2011 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    What a delicious recipe! Thanks for sharing this acua pazza recipe, I already see the next fish I prepared cooked like this.

    Have a wonderful weekend.

  9. Posted April 1, 2011 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Just popped over from Custard Pie as I was intrigued by your blog name. What a lovely blog. I will call back when I have more time to copy your lovely recipes. Keep safe. love Linda x

  10. Posted April 1, 2011 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    I’ve been trying to eat more fish lately and now here you come with this easy delicious recipe! And oh, the wine in it. I ‘ll take any excuse to open up a bottle!

  11. Posted April 1, 2011 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    What a fabulous platter!! I would love that for dinner tonight:) Yumm

  12. Posted April 1, 2011 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    It is a little bit crazy in our neighborhood Joumana isn’t it? Hopefully things will calm down eventually. I don’t know what the casualties will be by then! Ayway I think your dish is quite appropriate for this period of time!

  13. Posted April 1, 2011 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Looks delicious I love simple, easy dishes like this and my mouth is watering just at the sight of that crusty bread begging to be dunked in the “crazy” yummy sauce!

  14. Posted April 1, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Joumana thankyou so much for calling in to my blog and leaving that lovely comment. I had thought that you were still living in Beirut, I am glad that you are not. Still it must be hard for you being a long way from home in such troubled times. Have a lovely weekend, love Linda x

  15. Posted April 1, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    What a smart way to cook fish. I’ve done something similar before without even realizing it. Love the spices you used!

  16. Posted April 1, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    It sounds easy and delicious. Have to try it soon.

  17. Posted April 1, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    This looks delicious, my husband is skittish towards fish and generally hates the usual fish + fruity salsa preparation. He loves potatoes though, so this dish might be right up his alley!

  18. Posted April 2, 2011 at 2:46 am | Permalink

    This recipe is dead simple and very helpful for us as we get lots of sea bass, Suzuki, here in Japan. Will give it a try soon! Cheers!

  19. Posted April 2, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    A delicious dish! Simple and so refined

    i am too Rosa

  20. Nilofar Premji
    Posted April 4, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    I saw the recipe this morning on local Tampa TV station and I am looking forward to making the Ma’amout and would love to get the Pistachio mold. Thank you.

  21. Posted April 4, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    That sounds like a great way to prepare fish! Bookmarked!

  22. Posted April 6, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    What a fantastic dish…the fish looks so amazingly delicious, and the juiciness is Just superb :)

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