FOR the celebrity chef Jimmy Lee, one of the strongest memories of Chinese New Year were the little red envelopes from his relatives filled with money, but this time of year was, and still is, also about the food. Fish for prosperity, noodles for happiness and all of it served with piles of freshly made dumplings.

Glasgow born and raised, Lee started working in his father's takeaway when he was 16 years old. Today he runs the award-winning Lychee Oriental in Glasgow with a new restaurant opening in the city this summer.

Lee has also become an extremely well-known face on television. First introduced to TV as a regional finalist on the BBC’s Great British Menu, his charm, infectious smile and his enthusiasm for Asian food quickly caught the eye of both media executives and foodies alike from across the UK.

Loading article content

He has since become a regular on many other television programmes. He appears on STV's daily magazine show Live at Five and has co-presented the cookery show Julie and Jimmy's Hot Woks. He has also been a judge alongside the food writer Prue Leith and two-Michelin star chef Michael Caines on Channel 4's My Kitchen Rules. Last year he also appeared alongside Kirstie Allsopp as a guest judge on Kirstie's Handmade Christmas. He regularly appears at food festivals cooking some of his recipes to live audiences.

This week, Lee is preparing for his own New Year celebrations. Some of the traditions have changed with the times, he says, while others have remained the same.

"I remember when I was young we used to be given red envelopes filled with money by our relatives in exchange for wishing them health and prosperity," he says. " Today many kids would get a digital transfer of money via red envelope apps."

The most important meal is New Year's eve dinner. "There is a Chinese saying ‘May there be fish every year’," he says. "That’s why we normally have whole fish for prosperity. Noodles are also served for happiness and longevity.

"During the festivities, dumplings would also be served to represent wealth. There would also be one lucky dumpling with a lucky coin inside".

To mark Chinese New Year, here are four of Jimmy Lee's finest recipes to try yourself. There's crispy seabass, roast pork and pancetta-fried rice as well as the best prawn toast you'll ever taste. Whichever recipe you try, it's a delicious way to celebrate Chinese New Year.

Honey, Soy and Ginger Crispy Seabass



2 x 200g Seabass fillets

3 tablespoons cornflour

4 tablespoons Vegetable oil

3 tablespoons Dark soy

2 tablespoons Honey

Thumb of ginger crushed

1 tablespoon Rice vinegar


In a small bowl, mix the Dark Soy, honey, ginger and rice vinegar. Lightly coat the seabass fillets with cornflour.

Heat a pan with vegetable oil, to a medium heat. Place the seabass, skin side down, and pan fry for three minutes. Turn over and pan fry for another two minutes.

Add in the mixture and fry for another minute.

Serve with vegetables and steamed rice.

Prawn Toast



200g peeled and de-veined king prawns

1 egg white

1 clove garlic

1 cornflour

Pinch of salt

2 spring onions

1 pinch ginger

8 slices of bread

Sesame Seeds

500ml cooking Oil


Put all the ingredients, except bread and sesame seeds, in food processor and blend to a paste.

Spread paste on one side of the bread and press paste into bread as much as possible.

Place sesame seeds on a plate and then press the toast, paste side down into the seeds.

Using a frying pan heat the cooking oil until hot but not smoking. Place toasts into the pan for one minute or until golden brown turning half way.

Drain and cut the toast into four squares and half each square


Pancetta and Chicken Fried Rice



1 whisked egg

3 tablespoon vegetable oil

200g cooked long grain rice (left to go cold)

50g diced pancetta

50g cooked diced chicken breast

1finely diced spring onion

2 teaspoon sesame oil

1 drop dark soy sauce

2 drops light soy sauce

1 finely sliced spring onion

1 finely sliced carrot


Heat a wok with vegetable oil until just smoking.

Add whisked egg, pancetta and chicken and wok fry for 30 secs.

Add in cold rice and wok fry for another two minutes

Add in dark and light soy sauce.

Add in spring onions and sesame oil

Wok fry for another one minute.


Char Siu Roast Pork



400g of Pork Tenderloin

2 tablespoon Hoi-sin Sauce

1 tablespoon of oyster sauce

1 cube of red fermented bean curd (optional)

100ml of red wine

½ teaspoon Chinese five spice

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoon of Dark soy sauce

2 tablespoon of Light Soy sauce

3 gloves of crushed garlic


Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl except the pork and honey.

Coat the mixture to the Pork Tenderloin.

Let the pork marinade in the fridge for four hours.

Heat an oven to 180C and roast the meat on a tray for 20 minutes.

Turn over for roast for another 15 minutes.

Glaze the pork with the honey and roast for another five minutes on 220c.

Take out oven and let rest for 10 minutes.

Slice and serve