08 July 2009

Recipe - Wild Harvested Samphire

Recipe - Wild Harvested Samphire

For many, the sign of summer is the first swallow or the sound of a cuckoo or the sound of cricket being played or perhaps Glastonbury of the Summer solstice.  For me, it is samphire.  Samphire is one of those truly old foods from the wild that people have been gathering from our coastal areas, well probably forever.  It connects Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to Ray Mears, the survival expert.

Samphire is also called sea fennel and St Peter’s cress.  These religious overtones live on in the derivation of the word samphire which comes from the French – herbe de St Pierre.  It is a dark green, fleshy plant that grows along cliffs, rocky coast and marshlands.

It is relatively difficult to come by.  However, the easiest way is to find a good fishmonger and ask him whether he has got any or could get some for you.  It seems to be relatively easy to get in places like Norfolk or Dumfries & Galloway and I know that Booths Supermarkets, the quintessential Northern chain of quality stores, has it. 


700g    samphire

100g    unsalted butter

Squeeze of lemon juice

Wash the samphire thoroughly in plenty of cold water and trim off any coarse shoots.  It does become fairly tough later in the season but is pretty tender at the moment.

Put the samphire into a steamer and steam for about 15 minutes or until tender.  Once again this depends on the time of the year as it is tender now but gets tougher as the season progresses.

Drain and add butter.  It doesn’t need seasoning as it is already naturally salty but some lemon juice can be nice.

Serve and eat at once.