The Dish:


The Reason:

“There’s got to be something other than being a fisherman or kidnapping people'” so says Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks) after the MV Maersk Alabama becomes the first US cargo ship to be taken by pirates in over 200 years. Crazy water is an Italian technique of poaching fish in seasoned seawater, but it also could apply to the atmosphere depicted some 145 nautical miles off the horn of Africa. This version adds the classic Somalian spice mix of xawaash to add a little extra kick – and the resulting broth is heady enough to make even the most steely heroes lose their cool. The potatoes down there as a trivet aren’t a classic inclusion, but they do soak up the flavours beautifully- and after the kind of week Captain Phillips (also known to his captors as Irish ) has had, he probably something thatreminds him of home.

The Way:

Serves 2.


1 x large dutch oven/ heavy bottom fry pan (large enough to fit the fish), with a lid. 1 fish splice. 1 set of tongs.


 Xawaash (Somali Spice Mix)
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
pinch of ground cloves

Fish in Crazy Water

1 x 450 g Sea Bream/Snapper, gutted and scales cleaned
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 red chilli, thinly sliced
200 g cherry tomatoes ( a variety of colours is nice)
200 ml warm water
1 tbsp salt
300 g new potatoes, sliced into 3 mm slices

Chopped flat leaf parsley, or coriander to serve

Here’s how we roll

1) Mix together all of the spices for the xawaash. Cut three slits on each side of the fish, about 1 cm deep. Dust the fish in all of the spices, pushing them into the crevices you’ve cut.

2) Place 1 tbsp of olive oil in the bottom of a sturdy fry pan/ Dutch oven, that’s large enough to hold the fish. Fry the fish for 3-4 minutes over medium heat on one side, until it begins to brown. Use a fish splice and some tongs to carefully flip the fish and fry the other side for 3-4 minutes. Then use the fish splice to carefully pick up the fish and put aside.

P11401433) Add the remaining olive oil to the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic and chilli and sautee for 1-2 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the potato slices, cherry tomatoes, salt and water. Bring to a simmer.

4) Return the fish to the pan and place on top of the potatoes and tomatoes. Place the lid on the pot and simmer gently for 15 minutes, until the flesh of the fish is soft and the eyes of the fish have turned opaque. Gently remove the fish and set aside. Bring the crazy water up to a boil and boilstrongly  for 5 minutes, to ensure the tomatoes are pulpy and the potatoes are cooked through. Serve the fish scattered with fresh herbs, with the tomatoes, potato slices and drizzling of the spiced crazy water as sauce.  When serving the fish flesh should slip from the skeleton, though be careful, there may be some bones.