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Szechuan-Spiced Sea Bream with Radish Slaw

by Marcus Wareing from New Classics: Inspiring and Delicious Recipes to Transform Your Home Cooking (Harper Collins)

Photography: Jonathan Gregson

Szechuan pepper has a unique flavour and an aromatic quality that can be quite addictive. However, if you go overboard you will end up with numb lips! When purchasing fish, always look for bright, shiny skin – it should not be dull and rubbery.

Serves 4

Preparation time: 15 mins

Cooking time: about 20 mins


3 tbsp vegetable oil

1 onion, finely sliced

6 Szechuan peppercorns, finely crushed

2 tbsp sweet Sherry (Nigel says you can substitute with a dessert wine or Port)

2 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsp soy sauce

50g unsalted peanuts, roasted and finely chopped (Nigel says you can substitute with salted peanuts but rinse the salt off & dry with a paper towel)

4 skin-on, pin-boned sea bream fillets (Nigel says you can substitute with sea bass or grey mullet fillets)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mint tips, to serve


2 tbsp sesame oil

1 tsp rice wine vinegar

1 tbsp finely chopped coriander

1 tbsp pickled ginger, finely sliced (or Nigel says allow thinly sliced fresh ginger to sit in a tsp of vinegar & ½ tsp sugar for 1hr)

2 watermelon radishes, peeled and finely sliced into rounds (Nigel says you can substitute with everyday radishes, mooli or baby turnips)


Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a medium frying pan over a medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion and crushed Szechuan peppercorns. Cook for 7-10 minutes until golden and fragrant, stirring frequently. Add the sherry and cook for 1 minute, then add the sesame oil, soy sauce and chopped peanuts. Mix well, remove from the heat and set aside.

To make the slaw, combine in a bowl the sesame oil with the rice wine vinegar, coriander and pickled ginger. Add the radish rounds, season well with sea salt and set aside.

To cook the seam bream, heat the remaining vegetable oil in a large, non-stick frying pan. When hot, season the bream then place the fillets in the pan, skin side down, pressing down on them lightly for a few moments with your fingers, to keep them from curling. Cook for 4-5 minutes until golden. Carefully turn the fillets over and cook the flesh side for a further 1-2 minutes until cooked through.

Serve the radish slaw on a plate, add the Szechuan onion and lay the sea bream on top. Scatter with the mint tips.

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