Acqua pazza (crazy water) is the Italian name given to this simply delicious chunky tomato, basil and oil sauce that’s often served with fish. It’s very much of the season, when basil and tomatoes are at their prime. You can either cook the fish in the sauce or pan-fry it and pour the sauce over at the end.






Skill level

Average: 2.9 (23 votes)


  • 100 ml extra virgin olive oil 
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced 
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped 
  • 1 long red chilli, thinly sliced (optional) 
  • 1 kg (about 2) skinless fish fillets (such as perch, barramundi or ling) 
  • 1 cup basil leaves, roughly torn

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Heat 1 tbsp oil over low–medium heat and fry garlic for 1 minute or until fragrant, but not brown. Add tomatoes and fry for a further minute. Pour in 375 ml water, add the chilli, if using, and cook for 5 minutes or until tomatoes are just soft. Season with salt and pepper, and keep warm.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large frying pan over medium–high heat. Cook fish for 3 minutes each side or until just cooked.

Stir remaining 60 ml oil and basil into tomato sauce, then pour sauce over fish. (Alternatively, poach the fish in the sauce in a covered frying pan over low heat for 20 minutes or until just cooked.)


As seen in Feast magazine, Mar 2012, Issue 7. For more recipes and articles, pick up a copy of this month's Feast magazine or check out our great subscriptions offers here.

Photography by Alan Benson.