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Acqua Pazza

Servings 4


  • 2 whole fish 1 lb. (stripe bass, snapper or any type of bream)

  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced ¼ inch

  • 2 sprigs oregano, leaves only

  • As needed kosher salt

  • As needed extra virgin olive oil

Seafood Stock

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 cup green onions, small dice

  • 1/3 cup whole garlic

  • ½ bunch oregano, including stems

  • 2 tsp Calabrian chili

  • 6 to 7 Roma tomatoes, cut in to 1/8 pieces

  • 1 Tbsp Kosher salt

  • 2 fish bones

  • 1-gallon ice water

  • 12 shrimp peels (optional)

  • ½ bunch of basil, including stems

  • 2 sprigs oregano, including stems


  1. When buying the fish from your fishmonger or supermarket, ask them to descale the fish with guts removed (some will even fillet the fish for you at no cost, ask them to also save the bones and the head).

  2. Take the fillet of the fish, pat dry with paper towels and cut in half. Then score the skin at a bias three times, which will prevent the fish from curling. Place the fillets on paper towel lined trays and keep them cold in the refrigerator.

  3. Prepare the stock by heating the olive oil on high heat in a heavy-bottomed stock pot. Once the oil is hot, add the green onions, oregano, garlic, salt and tomatoes. Sweat for about 2-3 minutes.

  4. Add the fish bones, shrimp peels (optional) and the gallon of ice water (when making any type of stock, use cold water to bring any of the impurities out of the bones; in this recipe, the vegetables and aromatics are hot so we add ice water to make the stock from cold). Bring it to a boil, then lower to simmer for about 30 minutes.

  5. Strain the stock into another pot and reduce by half on medium to low heat. When it is reduced by half, strain the stock one more time (save 1 cup of stock for couscous) and reduce it a little further adding basil and oregano, about 5-6 minutes.

  6. Strain the stock which is almost sauce consistency and reserve on the side.


  • 1 cup couscous

  • 1 cup stock (from above recipe)

  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • ½ Tbsp salt

  • ¼ cup mint, chopped fine

  • 2 Tbsp parsley, chopped fine

  • 1 Roma/plum tomatoes, seeds removed and small dice

  1. Place the couscous in a small pot with the olive oil and lightly toast on medium heat for 2-3 minutes.

  2. Add salt, tomatoes, mint, parsley and the fish stock.

  3. Stir the ingredients well and place a lid on the pot. Set aside off the heat and reserve.

Finished Broth/Sauce for Fish

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

  • 3 zucchini sliced thin 3/8” (only the green part, discard the middle)

  • 1 crushed whole clove garlic

  • Pinch red pepper flakes

  • 1/2 cup basil chiffonade

  • 1/2 cup parley roughly chopped

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in halves

  • Pinch salt

  • 12 pieces medium size shrimp cut in to thirds (26-30 count) *optional

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

  2. Heat a large sauté pan with olive oil on medium high heat, then add garlic, zucchini, red pepper flakes, tomatoes and salt. Sauté them until the juices from the cherry tomatoes come out, about 1-2 minutes.

  3. Strain the reduced fish stock from earlier into the tomatoes and continue to reduce on medium-low heat. Finish with chopped parsley and basil (also add the optional shrimp at this point).

  4. While the sauce is cooking, place the fish fillets on an oiled baking sheet skin side up. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and place oregano leaves on top of the fish. Place garlic slices next to fish on the tray and liberally drizzle skin of the fish with extra virgin olive oil.

  5. Bake the fish for about 7-8 minutes (you want the flesh to be firm but not dried out).

  6. While the fish is roasting in the oven, fluff the couscous with a spoon. Use a large bowl-plate and place a portion of couscous in the middle.

  7. When the fish comes out of the oven, gently place two fillets on the couscous, and ladle the finished broth-sauce.

  8. Lightly drizzle extra virgin olive oil on top, garnish with a sprig of parsley and serve immediately.


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