The name Samphire, conjures up images of sea dragons and crystal blue waters. With such a romantic name, it is no wonder the flavor is subtle, yet complex.
This particular samphire is accompanying my Cod dinner, so it has been prepared as a tasty side, plain, simple, and delicious. There is only a slight taste of the sea, enough to delight the palate without overpowering. It leaves me wondering what it tastes of when it is straight from the coastline. The texture is crisp and chewy, reminding me of a cross between fresh young asparagus and pine nuts. There is even the slightest hint of nuttiness.
Samphire is considered a sea vegetable, even though most of the samphire found in stores or restaurants grows in tidal marshland rather than directly out in the sea. It is sometimes called sea asparagus or sea pickle. Samphire has a rich history as not only a food source but also in the making of glass and soap.
From a culinary perspective, samphire is making its way into haute cuisine and is becoming more and more available in the marketplace. It can be eaten raw, however, tends to be bitter due to its high saponin content. The best way to prepare it is to boil it for a few moments and then rinse and eat. It has such a subtle salty flavor it is a nice addition to any number of culinary endeavors without being distracting.
From a health perspective, sea vegetation is incredibly nutrient dense. It delivers an amazing amount of vitamins and minerals, like manganese, calcium, phosphorous, iron, and of course is rich in iodine. Samphire is also high in Vitamins A, C, D and B. Historically, it has been used as a digestive aid and diuretic. Research suggests that it is beneficial in protecting the liver from oxidative stress, repairing cellular DNA, and increasing cardiovascular health.