Samphire is the ingredient of the moment. It’s on TV (e.g. Great British Menu), in the newspaper food sections (Independent last week, Guardian last month) and on the web (Clotilde at Chocolate & Zucchini for example). Samphire has many names, sea asparagus, sea beans & salicornia. There are two types of samphire – Marsh Samphire & Rock Samphire, the one you’ve been seeing everywhere is marsh samphire, found growing in the tidal zone and found all along the coast. The Norfolk coastline is particularly rich in it. You can buy it from most fishmongers and farmer’s markets. It’s not cheap, mine cost £1.50 per 100g, 100g works out at approximately a handful so I bought a couple. If you’re having it on it’s own with fish you’ll need about 100g-150g a person, maybe a bit more.
I first had samphire two years ago when we went to the Salusbury Pub & Dining Room in Queens Park for my birthday. It was served with sea bream and roast potatoes and was absolutely delicious. I have been a fan ever since. My samphire that night was absolutely soaked in butter, it works really well with it, but as a lactose intolerant that generally isn’t an option for me. Besides, I wanted to make something light & summery that paired well with the rich wild salmon that I had bought on my way home from work. Salty samphire pairs extremely well with fish but is also beautiful in salads. I tried both with my 200g batch, for today I’ll talk about the fish dish.
I went to Marylebone Farmers Market at the weekend and bought beautiful Isle of Wight tomatoes and a large bag of broad beans. I was keen to use them in this dish so decided on a samphire salad to go with the salmon.
Recipe notes: Samphire is very easy to cook but it is very salty so I would advise soaking in several changes of water over a few hours. If this isn’t possible, at least wash it in a few changes of water. Early season samphire can be eaten raw, however, it’s no longer early season and besides I like it blanched briefly before eating – 2 minutes or so does it. Take care to remove the woody bits from the end of the samphire stems and any bad bits. Be warned that samphire doesn’t keep very long as I found out last time I bought it! While double podding the broad beans is painful, it really is worth it, otherwise the rubbery broad bean skin overpowers the sweetness of the actual bean.
Ingredients (for 2):
100g samphire, rinsed thoroughly
A handful of ripe cherry tomatoes, I used half red/half yellow
A handful of double podded broad beans
2 large new potatoes, halved & sliced
Juice of an unwaxed, preferable organic lemon
extra virgin olive oil
2 good size salmon fillets (1 per portion)
freshly ground S&P
Blanch the broad beans & samphire for approximately 2 minutes each, drain and arrest cooking by submerging in iced water. If you’ve no ice run the cold water tap over them in a colander until cold. Leave aside.
Cook the potatoes until a fork just goes through the flesh. Drain & set aside.
Chop the tomatoes into quarters and toss with the samphire & broad beans.
Sauté the potatoes in olive oil over a high eat until brown. While doing this, cook your salmon.
Coat the salmon in olve oil and season. Cook on a griddle pan or frying pan if you don’t have one, skin side down to begin with. When the fish is about 1/3 cooked through (you’ll see the flesh change colour as it cooks on the side of the fillet), turn it over and cook on the other side for a further few minutes when the fish will be done. Squeeze some lemon juice over the fish.
Dress your salad with lemon juice and olive oil – approx 1/3 juice to olve oil, adjust & season to taste.
Serve the salmon on top of the salad and potatoes.