Blue-Eye Trevalla ‘Acqua Pazza’

This dish comes from Naples, as does Armando Percuoco who taught it at the Seafood School. Even Armando couldn’t be certain about  how  the  name,  which means  ‘crazy water’, came  about,  although it’s been  suggested that the  water is ‘crazy’ because  it boils so vigorously when cooking the  pasta.  The starch left behind in the cooking water adds a creaminess to the tomato sauce. You can use any leftover bits of pasta that you have on hand. Ensure the tomatoes are at room temperature so they don’t cool the  pan down too much when they’re  added.  Some regional variations of this dish use sea water instead of the  pasta  cooking water.

Ingredients (serves six)

  • 1 handful dried pasta (any type)
  • 1 cup (125 ml) olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 6 x 180g pieces blue-eye trevalla fillet, skin off and pin-boned
  • 600g cherry tomatoes, halved salt flakes, to taste
  • 12 basil leaves, finely sliced

Cook the pasta in 1.5 litres of boiling water until it is overcooked and the water is cloudy with starch. Discard the pasta and reserve 2 cups (500 ml) of the cooking water.

Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add the oil. When hot, add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes, until golden. Add the fish and cook for one minute then turn over. Add the tomato. Cover the pan tightly and cook the fish for five to10 minutes, depending on the thickness, until it is opaque almost all the way through. Remove the fish from the pan and set aside. Discard the garlic.

Add about five tablespoons  of the pasta cooking water to the pan, or a little more if there isn’t much liquid from the tomatoes. Increase the temperature and cook until the liquid is reduced to a sauce consistency, squashing the tomatoes a little with the back of a spoon or egg lifter to give a creamy consistency.

Return the fish to the pan and heat over low heat for a minute. Add the salt and most of the basil and toss well to combine.

Place the fish in the centre of the plates. Spoon the sauce over the top and garnish with the remaining basil.

You can also use bass or groper if you cannot get blue-eye trevalla

Recipe from the book Sydney Seafood School Cookbook by Roberta Muir & photography by Alan Benson, published by Lantern rrp$49.99

Written by Andrea