Thursday, August 6, 2009


Tamar and I are in London, England enjoying ourselves before a family wedding. We visited Borough Market last week and before our trip, were asked by her brother to try and find some fresh samphire to cook up for dinner that night. This English plant is in season now, but is only available for a few weeks every summer. It grows in salty marshes and coastal regions of England, and absorbs that ocean essence to provide a unique marine flavour that lends itself nicely to seafood dishes. Never having heard of it, we found some at the market stall Turnips, for the low low price of £29/kg (or $22 USD/lb). After overcoming the sticker shock, we picked up a few quids worth to eat later that night back at my brother-in-law-to-be's flat.

We also bought some beautiful salmon fillets at a fishmonger. That night, we seasoned the fillets with salt and pepper before roasting them skin side down in a pyrex roasting dish in a few tablespoons of melted butter and three cloves of coarsely chopped garlic until slightly underdone (about 15 minutes in a 350 F oven).

We then added the samphire to the bottom of the dish and tossed it with the juices from the salmon, the melted butter, and garlic. We baked it all together for five more minutes until the salmon was cooked to our liking. We served a fillet per person with a generous tangle of samphire. The samphire had soaked up some of the garlicky butter while releasing it's briny juices into the pan. It retained a lot of its natural saltiness, was ever so slightly bitter, and had a nice toothy bite to it.

Since that night, we've seen samphire on a few menus and ordered it yesterday. It had been blanched and came tossed in a salad with rocket, sauteed garlic, chili flakes, olive oil and was topped with two grilled scallops. The chili flakes added a nice zing, and the slightly crunchy samphire contrasted in texture with the soft scallops nicely.

I've enjoyed my samphire experiences over here, and hope to one day see it on menus and in markets back in North America. Does anyone out there have any other interesting uses for it? If so, please let me know!


Lynn said...

Hope you don't mind, but I pinched your samphire photo (for educational purposes only, I assure you) and posted it on my blog forum.

hungrycanuck said...

No problem! Hope the picture helps. You can find full-resolution images on flickr.