Cantonese Style Sea Bream with Chilli and Ginger Broccoli Florets

By Jacqueline Roll •

In 2013 we bid farewell to the “Year of the Dragon” and welcome the “Year of the Snake”. Food blogger Jacqueline her memories of Chinese New Year celebrations in Hong Kong, along with a delicious recipe for Cantonese style sea bream. 


Spending some of my time in Hong Kong means I have been able to witness first hand how incredibly hard working the people here are. Commercial outlets very seldom have days off and merchants including those of a very senior age work tirelessly to sell their wares. There is however, one notable exception; Chinese New Year . I’m pleased to say that it is the one occasion of the year where they take their foot off the gas and pause to reflect and celebrate great fortunes to come.

During Chinese New Year many traditions are adhered to; Victoria Park, plays host to a blooming flower market as residents buy fresh plants and flowers for their homes and offices to signify new beginnings. A Chinese lantern ceremony welcomes newborns and a flurry of red envelopes (“lai see”) containing money is passed from the older to the younger, (more commonly, unmarried) generation.



When it comes to food however, there is no more fitting a dish to celebrate Chinese New Year than to serve a whole fish. In Chinese cuisine the whole fish symbolises prosperity and legend has it that eating a whole fish during Chinese New Year will help to bring your wishes true for the coming year.

Many of course will use a steamer or indeed a wok to cook the sea bream, however for this recipe, I will foil bake the fish.


Cantonese Style Sea Bream with Chilli and Ginger Broccoli Florets

Prep Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours

Serving Size: Serves 1-2 for Lunch or Dinner

A traditional way of bringing in the Chinese New Year, this dish symbolises prosperity as well as delivering wonderful Asian flavours.


Sea Bream:
  • 1 sea bream (approximately 280g), gutted, scaled, thoroughly cleaned and dried
  • 1/2 carrot, cut into batons
  • 1/2 red pepper cut into batons
  • 2 spring onions, roughly chopped
  • 25g of Chinese mushrooms ,soaked, drained and sliced
  • 2 tsbp of peanut oil, 1tbsp for baking foil and 1tbsp for frying the pepper, carrot and spring onion
  • 2 tbsp of Shaoxing rice wine
  • 2 tbsp of light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp of oyster sauce
  • 1tbsp of sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp of grated ginger
  • 1 clove of garlic, pressed
  • freshly ground black pepper


  • 1 head of broccoli, approx 600g, stalks removed and cut into florets
  • 1 level tsp of freshly grated ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 bird's eye red chili, sliced with seeds removed
  • 1 tbsp of sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp of peanut oil
  • 2 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 1/2 juice of a lime
  • 2 tsp of Shaoxing rice wine


Sea Bream:
  1. Score the fish on both sides with deep diagonal cuts.
  2. In a deep dish (wide enough to fit the fish), mix together the soy sauce, oyster sauce, Shaoxing rice wine, sesame oil, garlic, ginger and black pepper. Place the fish into the dish and ensure both sides have been coated in the marinade. Place the sliced mushrooms on top of the fish and continue to marinate for 2 hours.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
  4. Measure out one large piece of foil (big enough to form a "tent-like" structure round the fish) and lightly oil the centre.
  5. Transfer the sea bream on top, and drizzle the marinade over the top of the fish.
  6. Add the mushrooms.
  7. Fold up the foil. Scrunch together the edges of the foil to make a tent, leaving enough space for the fish to steam.
  8. Place the foil parcel onto a baking tray and cook in the preheated oven at 200°C for approximately 20 minutes.
  9. Check to see whether the fish is cooked by looking at the flesh near the bone in the thickest part. It should be opaque. Scrunch the foil back together, place the parcel on your dish.
  10. Finish off the dish by lightly frying pepper, carrots and spring onions for about 45 seconds in a little peanut oil.
  11. When you are ready to serve, remove the foil and see the sauce gush onto the plate. Garnish the fish with the lightly fried vegetables.


  1. Put a large pan of water on to boil. Place the florets into steamer or in a colander placed over the pan of boiling water and cover with a lid or some foil.
  2. Steam for 6 minutes or until stalks are tender.
  1. Place the ginger and garlic and chilli into a bowl. Stir in sesame oil, peanut oil, soy sauce and the lime juice. Drizzle in the Shaoxing rice wine. Whisk the dressing together.
  2. When the broccoli is cooked, place it on a serving dish.
  3. Warm up the dressing in a saucepan for approximately 45 seconds before pouring it over the broccoli.
  4. To heighten the experience, serve with fluffy steamed rice and drink ample amounts of warming Jasmine tea.


Sea bass can be used as a replacement for sea bream and Porcini mushrooms can always be used instead of Chinese mushrooms. Preparation time includes marinating time.

To all those celebrating, I would like to wish you “Kung Hei Fat Choi” (Happy New Year). Health and happiness in the Year of the Snake.

More delicious Chinese New Year recipes can be found on Great British Chefs.  What will you be eating for Chinese New Year?  Let us know here or over on Great British Chefs Facebook Page


Excellent HannahB - really pleased to hear it worked out fine.
11 February 2013
This was delicious! Made both the broccoli and the fish along with steamed rice and it was perfect. If you are afraid of cooking a whole fish don't be - it was so simple and looked really impressive when served.
10 February 2013

Jacqueline Roll

Jacqueline is the author behind food blog "How to be a Gourmand". Scottish born and having lived in Paris after graduating, she now splits her time between London and Hong Kong. While some turn to the gym as a way to destress, Jacqueline can be found in the kitchen, lost in the cathartic process of preparing the next meal. Her blog focuses on recipes that rank high in the flavour ratings and are simple to reproduce. 

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