Acqua Pazza Recipe

If you’re a fish lover and haven’t tried an Acqua Pazza recipe, you have to give it a try! It’s simply rustic but delicious.

Acqua Pazza is one of those recipes typically made with fresh fish.

4 pieces of fresh fish sitting on counter

But when Covid hit, Hubs cut down on the number of trips he makes to the supermarket, so that meant less fresh food on a nightly basis.

Fresh fish in acqua pazza recipe in pan on the stove

Try Frozen Fish!

Instead, we would buy a box of frozen fish from Costco. A blessing in disguise because it is not only economical but is a real convenience around here. We just separate it out into portions and pop it right back into the freezer until ready to use.

The easiest way to make this Acqua Pazza recipe is by cooking fish from frozen! When we’re in hurry to get dinner on the table, we just don’t even bother to thaw it! Not only easy, but a real time saver. I actually use the same frozen fish in this mango and avocado slaw recipe too.

Frozen fish for acqua pazza recipe

The sauce simmers for 10 minutes without the fish.

sauce for acqua pazza recipe cooking in a pan

Then slide the frozen fish fillets into the sauce and cover for another 12 – 15 minutes.

How to Serve

In the meantime, we usually cook some rice to accompany this dish to soak up all the liquid. You can serve this with crusty bread instead if you’re not gluten free. Although gluten free bread has come a long way, it really doesn’t stand up to liquid. So serving this with bread doesn’t really appeal to us in the same way its gluten counterpart used to!

Lid on the pan while acqua pazza recipe cooks

Since discovering this recipe on an episode of Giada De Laurentiis’ show, Giada in Italy, we’ve made it with a variety of different white fishes. Any mild flavoured fish will work, like tilapia, cod, bass, grouper, haddock, catfish, and snapper. Of course, she might just cringe to hear we sometimes use frozen fish, but it really works.

Fish nestled into the sauce in a pan for acqua pazza recipe

Acqua Pazza translates to ‘crazy water’  because of the flavouring. However, you likely won’t find this dish overly spicy. The key ingredients; onion, fennel, garlic, red pepper flakes, tomatoes, white wine, capers and parsley flavour the mild fish nicely.

My favourite part of the dish are the salty capers; I usually add a few more than called for!

Finished acqua pazza recipe in a white bowl

In under 45 minutes, start to finish, dinner is on the table.

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Acqua Pazza Recipe

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 servings


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
  • 1 bulb fennel halved and sliced thin
  • 1 red onion halved and sliced thin
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt divided
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • One 14-ounce container of cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1/2 cup water 1 cup if cooking from fresh
  • 2 tablespoon capers
  • 4 6- ounce filets of a white fish such as sole halibut etc. (skin removed)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley


  • Heat a large straight-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil, garlic, fennel, onion, and pepper flakes into the skillet. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, with a wooden spoon until the vegetables are soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Deglaze with the wine and stir. Add the tomatoes, water and capers. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to medium-low to maintain a gentle simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, sprinkle the filets with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Slide the fish filets into the broth and cover with a tight fitting lid. Cook until the fish is firm and opaque all the way through, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the lid and spoon some of the sauce over the fish. Sprinkle with parsley.


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