Nina’s Brodo di Pesce

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Nina’s Brodo di Pesce

Nina Groppo is a member of the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives and a cook so esteemed that when food celebrities such as Sara Moulton and Lidia Bastianich come to town, they visit her kitchen for a taste of real Gloucester cooking. This simple recipe, whole fish cooked in broth, is a classic example of the everyday meals the women prepare at home. (Holidays are another matter–they cook for days.) This recipe originally appeared in the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Cookbook.

Note: It can be difficult to find local fish this small at your average fish market; whole fish tend to come in larger sizes. Branzino is easier to find, but it’s flown in from the Mediterranean–hardly a sustainable choice. If you’re not a member of CAFC, you may need to call your fishmonger ahead to order something small and local.

Total Time: 25
Yield: 6 servings


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or 1/2 cup canned chopped tomatoes)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 large or 2 small whole cleaned white fish, such as perch, whiting, or redfish, 3-4 pounds total (see "Note")
  • 3 fresh parsley sprigs, chopped
  • Garnishes: 6 thin lemon slices, 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley


Preheat a 5- to 6-quart pot over medium-low setting. Add oil and warm for 30 seconds; then add garlic and cook 1 minute. Increase heat to medium and add tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Cook 5 minutes. Add water, increase heat to medium-high, and bring to a low boil. Add fish. Cover the pot with the lid ajar, and simmer fish until opaque, about 15 minutes. During the last minute of cooking, stir in chopped parsley.
Using two large spatulas, transfer fish gently to a serving dish. Stuff cavity with lemon slices, and pour broth around fish. Sprinkle with minced parsley and serve with crusty bread.

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