Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Great Bowls of Samphire!

As we approach the months of May and June I like to keep my beady eyes open for the availability of one of my favourite vegetables. Samphire is a salty flavoured native succulent that grows in coastal regions, marshlands, mud flats and on cliffs here in the UK. If I miss the short season when its available in the wild, I can then only find it in selected fishmongers where it is recommended to be eaten alongside seafood.

Regionally known as Sampha, Sampkin, Sea Asparagus and most notably Glasswort as it's ashes were used in 14th century English glassmaking techniques. Historically samphire would be picked by perilously clambering down the cliffs where many fell to their untimely end as mentioned in Shakespeare's King Lear.

'Half-way down hangs one that gathers samphire; dreadful trade!'

Samphire is very simple to prepare. Wash under running water and then drop it into boiling water for a few minutes just long enough to retain its bright green colour.
Rather than steaming I find boiling reduces the very salty flavour a little to suit my palate. A knob of butter and freshly milled pepper is all that's needed to finish.

I served Samphire this afternoon alongside Razor Clams with Wild mushrooms, Seaweeds and a Potato Sea Foam. My amateur adaption of a recipe from Le Champignon Sauvage. Razor clams were a first for me and I'm not sure that I would cook them again, I think I'd prefer scallops to accompany my next samphire dish.


  1. I have not had samphire for years when we were holidaying in Norfolk.
    What an exciting cook you are Paul, and so beautifully presented. The potato Sea Foam is an imaginative edition - you ought to go on Masterchef.

  2. Hello Paul:
    To our shame, and we love all seafood, we have never eaten samphire which does sound both very unusual and delicious. Your cooking skills are on a level we can only dream of and we fear, looking at this beautifully presented dish, we should be rather alarmed about asking you to dinner!

    Thank you so much for becoming a Follower.

  3. I have had samphire greens a long time ago when I was a girl. We were on holiday in Prince Edward Island and had them with a meal. I don't remember much about them but I believe I did like them. I have never seen them since then. Pamela

  4. Delicious and so fabulously presented.

  5. hi paul,

    i have never ever heard of samphire. thanks for sharing and thanks for visiting my "snappy little blog!" xo janet

  6. We are about to have some lamb's quarters and butter beans and maybe some cornbread. Our friends do this each year for cattle branding...I'm kinda scared

  7. I have never heard of or tasted Samphire but I will try to cook some this week if I can find it.Jem X

  8. Hello Paul - and many thanks for stopping by and leaving such a delightful comment.

    I can see I will be popping over here often as there is much of interest to me.........anyone who loves flowers, makes such stunning wreaths, enjoys cooking, French cheese, and is creative as you obviously are, is my kind of blog friend!!!!!!

    Regarding samphire, have heard of it but never eaten it, even when home in England. I bet I'd love it though because I'm vegetarian!

    Happy week - Mary

  9. Samphire is very tasty. I have never tried razor clams but I have seen them on the beach. The presentation of this dish is superb.

  10. I was lost until you said glasswort.

  11. Growing up in Oregon--a climate similar to the UK, we always went "clamming" for razor clams. My mother would fry them up in a fry pan. What she needed though was our family olive oil that you spied on top of my stove!
    I'm very intrigued with samphire. At first I thought it was seaweed. When I visit the UK next year, would love to try it if it is available.

  12. This looks amazing Paul. Potato sea foam?!?!? Can you come down here and open a restaurant please. I love samphire. Last time I had it was with sea bass cooked in a parcel with anchovies and potatoes - one of my faves. x

  13. I had never heard of samphire....but my stomach started growling as your post progressed!.....k

  14. Here in Toronto we have a chain of food stores that caters to the Asian and Indian communities. I love to roam the food isles and discover new foods. I pick up packages of things like dried white fungus and wonder how it is prepared and used.
    I have never had Samphire and would love to try it someday. Your meal as you present it looks amazing!

  15. Dear Paul,
    I get hungry reading this! I had samphire once - some legumes wear their healthiness like a litte sticker in front of them... Razor clams - how do they look? Are that the long-shelled ones?
    PS: I tested your post on Gino's Icecream in reality (and the Italian Lady feeded and spoilt me with a lot of different sorts on a tiny spoon - Try this! Try that!) - and I'll further follow your excellent advice, thank you.

  16. Paul-I have never heard of this in my life! I'm totally intrigued and would love to give it a try! I'm betting that you are one heck of a cook!


  17. I would love to be your guinea pig!
    Looks lovely~