Poached Fish

(“Pesce Affogato” – “Pisci Muratu”)


When my family was living in Sicily the Pisci Muratu was a favored dish and it was prepared often. 

“Muratu” that means walled up, is a way of cooking, where the skillet is covered and sealed with a tight lid so that the steam won’t escape and the food will cook rapidly.
This manner of cooking is appreciated because it keeps the fish moist, enhances its taste and the herbs and vegetable broth used for liquid gives it an exciting aroma.
The vegetable broth, used in this preparation, can be very delicate and subtle or robust, depending on your preferences. There are no set rules in the preparation of the broth, but on the contrary, your taste, your imagination and mainly what is available in your refrigerator or your pantry, will dictate the type of vegetables to be used. Parsley, bay leaves and either sliced onions, scallions, shallots or leeks should be utilized to give this dish its characteristic aroma.
You can add any vegetables you choose like celery, carrots or chopped fennel fronds. You can include any of your preferred herbs like basil, mint, sage, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, oregano or any spice like cloves, pepper, saffron, or allspice.
Fish fillets or steaks are favored in this preparation, and the lean type of fish, like black sea bass, flounder, grouper, haddock, halibut, pollack, ocean perch, red snapper, shark, scrod, tile fish or whiting would be preferable.
Buy from a reliable fishmonger and make sure that the fish fillets or steaks have a fresh smell, firm flesh and moist look.


Serves 4



  • 6 tablespoons of olive oil 
  • ½ medium sliced onion 
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • Pinch of marjoram or oregano 
  • 2 tablespoons of Italian parsley, finely chopped 
  • 1 ½ cups of vegetables, washed and diced, use celery, sliced carrots, or any other greens
  • 3 cups water 
  • Salt and pepper 
  • pinch of hot red pepper flakes (optional) 
  • 4 fish fillets, 6 to 7 oz. each, wash and pat dry 
  • lemons and parsley leaves for garnish 


In a medium size saucepan combine 3 tablespoons of olive oil, onion, bay leaves, marjoram, parsley, vegetables and water. Add ½ teaspoon of salt, some red pepper (optional) and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, until water reduces in half. If needed add some more water. Discard bay leaves.
In a 12 inches skillet place 3 tablespoons of oil, pour in half of the broth, add the vegetables and lay fillets over it, skin side down. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper and pour remaining broth on top.
Cover skillet with aluminum foil and place lid on top.
Simmer fish for 10 minutes over a medium heat.
Transfer to a serving dish, spoon pan juices and vegetables on top, garnish with lemons and parsley.