Whole snapper in crazy water

Whole snapper in crazy water

Lauren Bamford

This is another dish we do in the wood-fired oven. It’s a quick, simple, tasty recipe and it feeds masses. Crazy water is a classic Italian cooking technique with all the ingredients plus the fish cooked in a broth. I love this dish because you get the golden roastedness of the fish but also the steaming effect from the broth as well. Crazy good.


Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 fennel bulb, half finely chopped and half sliced on a mandoline, fronds picked
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 long red chilli, chopped
500ml dry white wine
2 x 500g whole baby snappers, scaled and cleaned, (ask your fishmonger to do this)
200g cherry tomatoes, cut in half
90g kalamata olives, (we use wild olives)
1 tablespoon salted capers
pinch fennel pollen, optional (see note)
extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Heat the oil in a very large frying pan over medium heat. Sweat the onion and chopped fennel for 2 minutes to soften. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for 1 minute before adding the wine and 500 ml of water. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5–10 minutes until the liquid has reduced by half. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool.
  3. Place the fish side-by-side in a large baking dish. Add the liquid and top with the cherry tomatoes, shaved fennel, olives and capers. Season lightly and bake for 15–20 minutes until cooked (check by inserting a knife into the thickest part of the fish, the flesh should be white and firm).
  4. To serve, garnish the fish with the fennel fronds and pollen (if using) and drizzle with a good glug of extra-virgin olive oil.


  • Fennel pollen is made from dried fennel flowers. It is available from good food stores.
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