Black Cod Acqua Pazza with Tomato Confit, Kalamata & Capers

Black Cod Acqua Pazza with Tomato Confit, Kalamata & Capers
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About This Recipe

Nestled in the heart of California, Napa Valley has always been a blend of rich tradition and innovative spirit. A region that's famed for its wines, it's also a haven for food lovers. And one of the dishes that have recently taken the local culinary scene by storm is the Black Cod Acqua Pazza with Tomato Confit, Kalamata, and Capers. Acqua pazza, which translates to "crazy water" in Italian, is a traditional method of poaching fish in a flavorful broth. It's simple, but when combined with Napa's freshest ingredients, the outcome is pure magic.

The inspiration for this dish stems from the age-old Italian recipes that highlight the natural flavors of the fish. Black cod, also known as sablefish, has a rich and buttery texture, making it the perfect canvas for the symphony of flavors that acqua pazza brings to the table. The black cod fillet is gently poached in a delicate broth infused with local tomatoes, zesty kalamatas, and the distinct tang of capers. Every bite is a harmonious medley, reminding you of the Italian coastline while grounding you in the essence of Napa.

While the dish itself is a testament to the fusion of Italian fish recipes with Napa's farm-to-table ethos, it's the wine pairing that elevates the experience to new heights. With a dish so rooted in tradition and yet so quintessentially Napa, the wine pairing had to be thoughtful. The buttery notes of a Napa Chardonnay mirror the texture of the black cod. Then there's the crisp Sauvignon Blanc from Duckhorn Vineyards, its high acidity and citrus undertones playing beautifully with the tomato and caper tanginess. And for the more adventurous palate, a Vermentino from Tablas Creek Vineyard contrasts the saltiness while complementing the dish's Mediterranean flair.

Now, while the acqua pazza recipe may sound gourmet, the beauty lies in its simplicity. Tomato confit, slowly roasted tomatoes in olive oil, infuses the dish with a profound depth of flavor. These tomatoes, sourced from local Napa farms, carry the sun-kissed flavor of Californian summers. Kalamatas and capers, both staples in Mediterranean cuisine, add layers of saltiness and brine, balancing the richness of the sablefish.

If you're visiting Napa or Sonoma, incorporating this dish into a multi-course meal will undoubtedly leave your guests in awe. Start with a light salad, perhaps featuring Sonoma's famous goat cheese. Then, let the Black Cod Acqua Pazza shine as the main course, accompanied by a side of roasted local vegetables or a simple risotto. Round off the meal with a classic tiramisu or panna cotta, and of course, a glass of the region's finest wine.

For those visiting Napa, places like the St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery offer an incredible array of white wines that would complement this dish. Their Sauvignon Blanc, in particular, is a must-try. Besides the wine and food, Napa offers scenic vineyard tours, boutique shopping, and a chance to immerse oneself in the vibrant history of California's wine country.

In conclusion, the Black Cod Acqua Pazza is not just a dish; it's an experience. It encapsulates the essence of Napa, the blend of tradition and innovation, the harmony of flavors, and the love for food and wine that this region embodies. Whether you're a local or a tourist, this dish is a journey through Napa's culinary soul, and one that's not to be missed.

Hero Ingredient Spotlight: Black Cod

Black Cod, or sablefish as it's also known, is the star of our Acqua Pazza recipe. Native to the North Pacific, this deep-sea fish boasts a velvety, buttery texture that beautifully marries with the delicate broth of the dish. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, it not only offers a gourmet experience but also comes packed with health benefits. Its adaptability makes it a favorite in various cuisines, but in our acqua pazza recipe, it shines, echoing the rich traditions of Italian fish recipes while being deeply rooted in Napa's culinary spirit.

How to Perfectly Poach Black Cod in Acqua Pazza Broth

  1. Choose the Right Pan: Opt for a wide, shallow pan to ensure even cooking of the fish.
  2. Heat the Broth: Before introducing the black cod fillet, ensure the acqua pazza broth is simmering, not boiling. This will keep the fish tender.
  3. Skin Side Down: Begin by placing the fish skin-side down. This not only gives it a beautiful finish but also lets the flavors penetrate better.
  4. Low and Slow: Keep the heat low to maintain a gentle simmer. This will allow the fish to poach evenly without falling apart.
  5. Check for Doneness: The fish should be opaque and flake easily with a fork when it's ready. Typically, it takes about 5-7 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillet.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I use another type of fish for this recipe? Absolutely. While black cod offers a unique texture and flavor, you can substitute it with halibut, sea bass, or even salmon. Remember, cooking times might vary based on the thickness and type of fish.
  2. How should I store leftovers? Store any leftover Black Cod Acqua Pazza in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It should be consumed within 2-3 days for optimal taste and freshness.
  3. Any allergens to be aware of in this dish? This dish contains fish, a common allergen. Always check the tomato confit recipe and other ingredients for potential allergens and adjust as necessary.
  4. Can I use regular olives instead of Kalamata? Yes, while Kalamata olives bring a distinct flavor, you can replace them with green or black olives. Adjust the saltiness as per your preference.
  5. Which tools are essential for this dish? A good-quality, wide, shallow pan is vital for poaching. A spatula or fish turner will help handle the fillet without breaking it.

Tips for Success

  1. Freshness First: Always opt for the freshest black cod fillet available. Fresh fish will enhance the overall taste and texture of the dish.
  2. Balance the Broth: The broth, or "crazy water", should have a harmonious balance of salty, tangy, and savory. Taste as you cook and adjust seasonings accordingly.
  3. Serve Immediately: Like most fish recipes, Black Cod Acqua Pazza is best enjoyed right after cooking. Pair it with the recommended wines, and you're in for an authentic Napa experience.

Recipe Overview

Black Cod Acqua Pazza with Tomato Confit, Kalamata & Capers
Lily Anderson
4 servings
Calories Per Serving:
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:

Ingredients List


  • 4 black cod fillets (6 ounces each)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes (for the confit)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional, for added heat)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Zest of 1 lemon

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. Start by making the tomato confit. Preheat the oven to 275°F (135°C). Place the cherry tomatoes in a baking dish, drizzle with half of the olive oil, and season lightly with salt. Bake for 45-60 minutes until they're softened and slightly shriveled. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the remaining olive oil. Add the garlic slices, and sauté until they're lightly golden.
  3. Increase the heat to medium-high. Add the black cod fillets, skin-side down, and cook for about 3 minutes until the skin becomes crispy.
  4. Flip the fillets and add the white wine, letting it bubble and reduce by half. This process will take around 2 minutes.
  5. Introduce the tomato confit, kalamata olives, capers, and red pepper flakes (if using) to the skillet. Allow everything to simmer together for an additional 4-5 minutes, ensuring the fish is cooked through but remains tender.
  6. Season the dish with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and lemon zest. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley before serving.

Share Your Results

Was it everything you dreamed it could be? Let me know how it turned out for you and share a picture on social media with the hashtag #LilyCooksNapa

Hello and welcome to Napa Home Chef! We're thrilled you're joining us to explore the vibrant world of wine country cooking. Our team has crafted bold, creative recipes inspired by Napa Valley's lush landscapes, bountiful harvests, and world-renowned wines. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

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