Fish alla Livornese

Fish alla Livornese simply means fish cooked in a Livornese style. This dish originates from Livorno, a coastal city in Tuscany, Italy, where they like to stew their seafood in a tomato sauce.

This fish dish is almost completely foolproof, because the fish cooks in liquid so it never dries out or becomes a rubbery mess. It’s also perfect for busy weekdays after work because the sauce that goes over the fish can be made days in advance.



1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
A pinch of salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 can (14 oz.) diced tomatoes
60g black olives, minced (I use half of a 4.25 oz can of pre-minced olives, but you can easily chop up whole pitted olives)
1 tbsp capers
1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes (opt.; add more if you like spicy food)
1 tbsp lemon juice (I use bottled juice)
2 fillets any white, firm-fleshed fish (e.g. snapper, cod, bass)

Serves 2 to 4.


Step 1: In a saucepan or small pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the diced onion with a pinch of salt for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and parsley and cook for 1 minute.

Step 2: Add in the tomatoes, olives, capers, and dried red pepper flakes. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and allow it to simmer for 15 minutes.

At this point, the tomato sauce is done. Don’t worry if it seems too dry or thick because the fish will ooze its own juices when you cook them together. If you’re not using the sauce right away, you can store it in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week, then pull it out when you’re ready to put the dish together.

Step 3: Preheat your oven to 200°C (400°F).

Step 4: Place the fish fillets in an oven-proof dish.

Sprinkle the lemon juice over the fish, then top with the sauce. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fish fillets. (Don’t worry, it’s very difficult to overcook this dish!)

Step 5: Serve warm over pasta or rice.


You don’t actually have to cook this dish in the oven. I like to because it’s easier to keep the fillet whole. If you want, you can chop up the fish into large cubes, then add it to the sauce simmering away on the stove-top. (Add some water if the sauce is too thick.)

Also, don’t think you’re just confined to fish. Try doubling the sauce and toss in some prawns, clams and/or mussels.

Leave a Reply