Celebrity chef Jimmy Lee on celebrating Chinese New Year and his love of Scottish ingredients

Scottish celebrity chef Jimmy Lee tells us about his plans for Chinese New Year and explains why he loves using Scottish ingredients in his cooking.

Published 16th Feb 2018
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

Glasgow born and raised, Jimmy Lee is head chef and owner of Cantonese restaurant, Lychee Oriental on Glasgow’s Mitchell Street and recently became a TV celebrity in his own right after appearing as a regional finalist on BBC’s Great British Menu.

A regular contributor on STV's daily magazine show 'Live at Five' and co-presenter of the channel's cookery show 'Julie and Jimmy's Hot Woks', he also appeared alongside Kirstie Allsopp as a guest judge on Channel 4's 'Kirstie's Handmade Christmas'.

The popular chef started working in his dad's takeaway when he was just 16, today he runs his own restaurant - where we recommend the Roast Duck with Lychees and Plum sauce - and is set to open a second in the city in Summer 2018.

So, how will the presenter, judge, award-winning chef and restaurateur be celebrating Chinese new year?

"New Years eve dinner is the most important meal of the year so I'll be having a banquet dinner with family and enjoying the celebrations in Glasgow’s George Square this coming Sunday."

"There is a Chinese saying ‘May there be fish every year’. That’s why we normally have whole fish for prosperity. Noodles are also served for happiness and longevity".

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

Jimmy believes that Korean BBQ restaurants will become very popular this year and will feature among the trends coming from the far east in 2018, he said: "Clay Pot chicken rice has been trending in Hong Kong with queues out the door so we may see this here as the Steamed Bao trends tapers off here."

The young chef added that cooking at home has never been easier and he expects the trend for people making Chinese and other Asian style dishes at home to continue, adding that it's so easy to prepare a quick meal like fried rice: "Strangely, I love making Bacon Eggs Beans and fried rice with a drizzle of soy sauce.

"I think growing up in Scotland has had an influence on this favourite quick meal!"

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The Glaswegian cook explained that he has been enjoying using one particular ingredient of late: "My recent creation Twice cooked Belly Pork with Spicy black bean has been very very popular. I can’t roast the Pork fast enough!

Speaking of ingredients, Jimmy stated that he loves to cook with Scottish ingredients, sourcing them whenever he can and incorporating them into his dishes. He said: "I love cooking with Wild Venison and this goes well when paired with Plum sauce.

"Scottish seafood is amazing, in the restaurant we get fresh Scottish Mussels delivered which are wok fried with chillis and black beans.

"Scottish Scallops are brilliant when cooked right. Steam them with garlic ginger and spring onion and they taste sublime, they are so versatile and they always look stunning on the plate as well as tasting divine."

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Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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