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DENTICE IN ACQUA PAZZA Originally acqua pazza, or “crazy water,” referred to cooking fish in seawater, as Neapolitan fishermen used to do it. Here instead it is poached in a quick stock enhanced with garlic and tomato. This is wonderful with baked or roasted potatoes (see Patate al Forno) alongside; for a more substantial dish, stir some mashed baked potato (without the skin) into the broth to thicken it.

  • Yield: 4 Servings


  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 6 large garlic cloves, 4 smashed with the side of a chef’s knife and
  • peeled, 2 thinly sliced
  • 1 Spanish onion, cut into small dice
  • 12 large shrimp, peeled (shells reserved) and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 4 large beefsteak tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cut into small dice
  • 2 basil sprigs, plus 8 large leaves, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 red snapper fillets, 8 ounces each, with skin
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for serving
  • 4 slices fettunta, optional
How to Make It
  1. To make the shrimp stock: Heat a medium heavy pot over medium heat. Pour in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and tip and tilt the pot to coat it, heating the oil until it is shimmering and almost smoking. Add the smashed garlic cloves, onions, and shrimp shells and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are softened but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add the tomato paste, stirring to coat the other ingredients with the paste, and cook until it turns a shade darker, about 2 minutes. Stir in a pinch of red pepper flakes, half of the diced tomatoes, and 1 basil sprig. Pour in enough water to cover the ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat so the liquid is simmering and simmer for 45 minutes. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh strainer set over a large bowl, pressing down on the solids with a wooden spoon or a ladle to extract as much flavorful liquid as possible. Discard the solids and season the stock with salt and pepper.
  2. Carefully wipe out the pot and heat it over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and tip and tilt the pot to coat it, heating the oil until it is shimmering and almost smoking. Add the sliced garlic, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and the remaining basil sprig, stir in the remaining tomatoes and the shrimp stock, and bring the mixture to a simmer.
  3. Meanwhile, season the snapper fillets with salt and pepper. When the liquid begins to simmer, carefully add the snapper to the pot, using a wooden spoon to gently submerge it, and cook until the fish is opaque and firm, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the shrimp to the poaching liquid, and cook until firm, 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. To serve, use a slotted spoon to set 1 snapper fillet and 3 shrimp in each of 4 bowls, then spoon or ladle the acqua pazza over the fish. Drizzle each serving with extra virgin olive oil and finish with a scattering of the sliced basil. Serve with the fettunta, if desired.

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