Spigola all’Acquapazza

Seabass in ‘Crazy Water’


Zio Rino & Zia Miriam

“No pray thee, let it serve for table-talk.” – Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare

Zio Rino fell in love with and proposed to his sweetheart, Miriam on the Rialto Bridge. Zia Miriam was the beautiful daughter of a fashion trader, who bought and sold expensive Italian hand-made garments and footwear in Venice. She and her siblings were immaculately dressed, fashioned by the exquisite garments sold in the shop.

Rino and Miriam set up home on the Lido of Venice with wonderful, sandy beaches onto the Adriatic Sea. They owned a beach-hut on the Lido beach, just opposite from where they lived. I remember the day we spent on the beach with my cousins alternating between its shade and the cooling sea, to escape from the blistering, August heat. On the veranda, Zia Miriam lay out a checked table cloth on the sun-scorched table and presented us with a foil wrapped lunch consisting fish, meat and vegetables. Blissful memories.

Here, seabream is cooked in crazy water of wine and stock for succulence and flavour. Bliss.

Spigola All’Acquapazza

Serves 2
1 whole seabass or 2 fillets, skin on * salt & freshly ground black pepper * 3 tbsp olive oil * 1 garlic clove, finely sliced * 1 sprig of thyme * 10 cherry tomatoes, halved * 1 sprig basil * 125ml (4 floz) white wine * 150ml (5 floz) water or vegetable stock

Season the seabass with salt and make 3 slits in each side to allow the sauce to flavour the fish. Heat the oil and fry the garlic with pepper for a few minutes. Then add the thyme, tomatoes and basil. Fry for 1 minute and then add the fish skin-side down. Let it cook briefly on both sides, then add the white wine and water or stock. Bring to the boil and boil furiously (pazza) for 10 minutes or until the fish is fully cooked. Serve the fish on warmed plates.

I have collated all my favourite recipes into one book FOOD FOR ALL OCCASIONS.

This recipe comes from the section THE ITALIAN JOB, a selection of authentic Italian recipes.