Whole chilli and lemongrass sea bream

Whole chilli and lemongrass sea bream

  • serves 4
  • Easy

Our recipe for delicately soft barbequed sea bream, with a fiery chilli and punchy lemongrass marinade, makes for a great summer BBQ. In Phu Quoc and coastal regions of Vietnam, huge tanks of live fish and shellfish are a common sight in markets. Customers barter for what they want, choose a marinade and dipping sauce, and it all gets cooked on a huge charcoal grill in minutes


Try our whole sea bream BBQ fish recipe, then check out our BBQ prawns, ultimate BBQ sauce and BBQ chicken wings.



  • sea bream 2 whole (700g each), cleaned
  • lemongrass 8 stalks, halved lengthways


  • red chillies 6 (3 deseeded), chopped
  • shallots 3, chopped
  • garlic 8 cloves, crushed
  • ginger 2 thumb-sized pieces, grated
  • limes 4, zested and juiced
  • lemongrass 2 stalks, finely chopped
  • fish sauce 4 tbsp
  • brown sugar 4 tbsp
  • soy sauce 4 tbsp


  • Step 1

    Put the marinade ingredients in a food processor and whizz to a smooth paste.

  • Step 2

    Put the sea breams in a large bowl or roasting tray and pour over the marinade, making sure they are well covered, both inside and out.

  • Step 3

    Leave to marinate in the fridge for 1-2 hours.

  • Step 4

    When you’re ready to cook, heat the barbecue to medium-high (or for oven cooking, see below).

  • Step 5

    Tear 2 sheets of foil big enough to enclose a whole fish and lay them slightly overlapping.

  • Step 6

    Lay 8 lemongrass halves in the centre, put a fish on top with half the marinade from the dish and season well.

  • Step 7

    Bring each side of the foil up, scrunching together to make a tight seal.

  • Step 8

    Repeat with the other sea bream.

  • Step 9

    Cook directly on the coals for 25-30 minutes with the lid down until cooked through.

Alternatively, heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6 and cook the fish on a baking tray on the lemongrass halves and in a foil parcel (as above) for 30-35 minutes until cooked through.

Nutritional Information

  • Kcals 300
  • Fat 5.3g
  • Carbs 27.8g
  • Sugars 23.5g
  • Fibre 1.1g
  • Protein 34.6g
  • Salt 5.5g