Flounder in crazy water

Total Time
47 min
12 min
35 min
Pesce all'acqua pazza, which means "fish in crazy water," is a way of poaching fish that seems to have originated with Neapolitan fisherman who used sea water to cook their catch. We love this recipe for its ease of preparation and prettiness on the plate or in its shallow serving bowl. Flounder filets are allowed to steam in the crazy water - essentially a parsley-seasoned tomato broth deepened by garlic. Because of its mild flavor, flounder is ideal for this dish that showcases fine, honest flavors in a preparation that seems more sophisticated than it actually is to put together. Serve alongside a crusty ciabatta or toasted flatbread and pair the fish with an arugula or spinach salad dressed with a lemony vinaigrette.


Fresh parsley

12 sprig(s), large, flat-leaf


2 cup(s)


4 medium clove(s), thinly sliced

Extra virgin olive oil

4 tsp

Black pepper

¾ tsp

Table salt

¾ tsp

Fresh tomato(es)

1½ pound(s), (2 pints), mixed baby heirloom, quartered or halved

Uncooked flounder fillet(s)

20 oz, 4 (5- to 6-ounce) fillets


  1. Separate leaves and stems of 8 parsley sprigs; coarsely chop leaves. Reserve remaining 4 sprigs. Place parsley stems in large deep skillet with water, garlic, oil, salt, and pepper; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, until broth is fragrant and garlic is tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. Remove parsley stems from skillet and discard. Add tomatoes and chopped parsley to skillet and return to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until tomatoes are slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Fold ends of flounder under to form neat packages. With pancake spatula, place fish in skillet and cook, covered, until just opaque in center, about 7 minutes.
  3. Using two spatulas, carefully transfer fillets to 4 large shallow bowls or deep plates. Spoon tomato mixture over fish and top with reserved 4 parsley sprigs.
  4. Per serving: 1 flounder fillet and generous 1/2 cup tomato mixture