Go Nuts for Fish

Italian halibut in ‘crazy water’ is swimming in flavor
Photographs by Joe Vaughn

Rina Tonon, of Café Cortina in Farmington Hills, learned to make this simple but delicious specialty dish of the Italian island of Ponza, during summers at her family’s home.

Ippoglosso Aqua Pazza (Fresh Halibut in Crazy Water)

4 cups lightly salted water, seasoned with two celery stalks and two fennel stalks 2 10-ounce fresh halibut fillets

Bring seasoned water to a simmer in a 2-quart sauté pan. Simmer fish uncovered, making sure the water covers the fish. Poach fish until cooked through. Remove halibut with a large flat strainer so the fish remains intact. Keep warm.  Pour the fish stock through cheesecloth to make a clear broth.

To serve, have two large bowls ready, each containing the following ingredients:

2 teaspoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon coarsely chopped spearmint
1/2 teaspoon chopped tarragon
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon thinly sliced, marinated, mildly hot peppers
1/2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3 tablespoons virgin olive oil
Additional garlic clove

Place a halibut fillet in each bowl. Pour hot stock over the fish. Accompany each dish with a lightly broiled thick slice of either Italian or French bread that has been brushed with a garlic clove and basted with olive oil (for dipping in the savory broth). Serves 2.

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