Do you know how to cook samphire or even what it is?
It's tender, salty, crunchy, just 11 calories a portion and totally delicious!
I'll explain the history of samphire in the British Isles and show you how to cook this underused vegetable.
There are also lots of ideas of what to serve it with.
What is samphire?
The first time I had samphire was in a fish restaurant. I had heard about it but it wasn't readily available. If you haven't tried it, it has a delectable crunch and is naturally seasoned with sea salt so you won't need to add any!
There are two types of samphire found in the UK, rock samphire Crithmum maritimum, which isn't available in the shops and marsh samphire Salicornia bigelov, which is found mainly in north Wales and Norfolk.
Rock samphire is also known as seafennel and marsh samphire is also called:
- sampkin - a common name for samphire found around the river Dee in north Wales
- glasswort - this is an old English name from when samphire ashes were used to make soap and glass
- sea beans
- baby asparagus
- sea asparagus
- salt fingers
- crow's foot greens
- sea pickle
Many supermarkets and fishmongers now stock samphire regularly and you can also buy it online fresh or pickled. It's at its best in the months of July and August, but it's generally available from May until September.
It's also available in many other countries, although the name samphire comes from the French sampiere, which is a shortening of the French Saint Pierre's herb, who is the patron saint of fisherman. In France today it is called salicorn.
- Samphire - marsh samphire
- Butter - use unsalted butter
- Water - for boiling or steaming
- Pepper - to counteract the salt
See recipe card for quantities.
- Frying pan
- Lidded saucepan
- Wooden spoon
Whichever way you want to cook samphire give it a good wash and break any big pieces into smaller strands. This makes it easier to cook and serve,
💭 Top tip
- For best results dry off the samphire in a clean tea towel or on kitchen paper when frying or there will be too much liquid in the pan.
Put a large frying pan over a medium heat and add the butter.
When it starts to foam add the samphire and cook 3 to 4 minutes until it just wilts.
Season to taste with pepper and serve immediately.
This is the best way to cook samphire for speed and ease.
Bring a lidded saucepan of water to the boil and add the samphire.
Replace the lid and leave to cook for 2 minutes then drain in a colander.
Add the butter to the pan then stir in the hot samphire.
Season to taste and serve.
Put 2 cm or an inch of boiling water in a steamer.
Add the samphire to a steaming basket and replace the lid.
Cook for 2 minutes then season and serve.
💭 Top tip
- The steaming and boiling method will reduce the amount of salt flavour in the finished dish.
- If you don't have a steamer put the samphire in a colander over a large pan with water in the bottom.
🥗 Serve with
Serve the samphire as a side dish but it goes particularly well with seafood.
- Baked Lemon Side of Salmon
- Cod Mornay
- Monkfish with Chorizo
- Honey Garlic Salmon
- Fish Pie with Scalloped Potatoes
- risottos and rice dishes like kedgeree
- stir fries
Uncooked samphire can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days but it does quickly become unusable. Discard any brown of wilted pieces before use.
Samphire or sea beans is delicious on it's own but you could add the zest and juice of a lemon before serving.
How to Cook Samphire
- frying pan - optional
- saucepan - optional
- steamer - optional
- Wooden spoon
- 230 g samphire 2 packs
- 2 tablespoon butter unsalted
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Wash the samphire and break any big pieces into smaller strands.
- Put a large frying pan over a medium heat and add the butter.
- When it starts to foam add the samphire and cook 3 to 4 minutes until it just wilts.
- Season to taste with pepper and serve immediately.
- Bring a lidded saucepan of water to the boil and add the samphire.
- Replace the lid and leave to cook for 2 minutes then drain in a colander.
- Add the butter to the pan then stir in the hot samphire.
- Season to taste and serve.
- Put 2 cm or an inch of boiling water in a steamer.
- Add the samphire to a steaming basket and replace the lid.
- Cook for 2 minutes then season and serve.
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat.
- Wash hands after touching raw meat.
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods.
- Never leave cooking food unattended'
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds.
- Always have good ventilation when using gas.
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