We can’t go on holiday for another two months, so in the meantime, we’re all about cooking up Mediterranean-style dishes that feel just like holiday food and make perfect summer dinners after a long, sunless day at the office. Not gonna lie, what drew us to Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons by Diana Henry (£16.99, Octopus) is it’s amazing title, so we had to get hold of the signature dish, Crazy Water, which is actually a fish-in-broth dish from the Amalfi Coast and not that crazy at all, but it is DELICIOUS.
For the broth:
1 medium bunch flat-leaf parsley
8 large plum tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
2 small red chillies (not bird’s eye – they’re too hot), deseeded and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
200ml white wine
275ml fish stock or water
4 sprigs oregano, or about
15ml (1 tbsp) dried oregano, crumbled
100ml extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1 x 1.5kg sea bass, or 4 small sea bass, gutted and scaled
Really good extra virgin olive oil
Wedges of lemon for serving
1. To make the broth, cut the stalks off the parsley and tie about half a dozen of them together with a piece of string. Put the leaves to one side. Mix together all the ingredients for the broth, excluding the parsley leaves but including the bundle of stalks, in the bottom of a pan large enough to hold the fish. Bring it to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
2. Wash the fish well and lower it into the pan of broth. Cover and simmer gently for about 30 minutes for a large fish, 15 for small ones. Do check from time to time to see how it’s doing. You need to look at the flesh nearest the bone: if it’s white, the fish is cooked; if it’s translucent, it needs more time.
3. Remove the fish, then cover it and keep it warm while you finish off the broth. Whip out the parsley stalks, bring the broth up to the boil and let it reduce by about a quarter. Roughly chop the parsley leaves and, keeping a handful aside for garnish, throw them into the pan and let it simmer for another three or four minutes while you deal with the fish.
4. If you’ve cooked one large fish, you can serve it whole on a platter, with the broth in a tureen on the side. Or you can serve the broth in individual broad soup plates, with the flesh from a large fish or whole small fish on top. However you present it, douse liberally with really good extra virgin oil – offering more on the side – and sprinkle a few parsley leaves on top. Serve with lemon wedges and either new potatoes or bread.
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