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Samphire, Sandfire, Sea Fennel


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16 replies to this topic

#1 Peter the eater

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 06:21 PM

This is an example of a local ingredient that I've never seen, never tasted, never seen for sale, never seen on a menu and nobody (that I've talked to) seems to know anything about. Apparently it's delicious.


Marie Nightingale's 1989 recipe from "Out of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens":

In early Spring these greens appear on the fertile marshes of the Bay of Fundy and are delicious.

Cut off the roots and wash well. Cook until tender in small amount of water. Cool enough so that they can be handled, and remove woody centres by grasping stem and pulling gently. Reheat with butter. Add a few drops of vinegar, if desired.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .
Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .
Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

#2 nickrey

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 10:38 PM

This is an example of a local ingredient that I've never seen, never tasted, never seen for sale, never seen on a menu and nobody (that I've talked to) seems to know anything about. Apparently it's delicious.


Marie Nightingale's 1989 recipe from "Out of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens":

In early Spring these greens appear on the fertile marshes of the Bay of Fundy and are delicious.

Cut off the roots and wash well. Cook until tender in small amount of water. Cool enough so that they can be handled, and remove woody centres by grasping stem and pulling gently. Reheat with butter. Add a few drops of vinegar, if desired.

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Samphire is an old British ingredient. Their chefs sometimes use it as an ingredient when they are preparing regional dishes.

This link talks about how it is being used in Australian cooking and gives some tips on its preparation.

It's like a crisp and salty asparagus.

Interestingly in parts of Australia it is a plant that holds together sea sand dunes and prevents erosion. As such, it can be illegal to pick it.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

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Unless there are three other people." Orson Welles
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#3 Markian

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 05:19 AM

I found tons of this growing on a rocky beach here in New Brunswick...it tastes quite salty with a light grassy herbaceous quality...kind of like eating a thin aloe vera plant. You can saute it quickly in brown butter, add a touch of vinegar and serve with fish...its quite good and definitely regional.
I'd rather live in a world without truffles than in a world without onions.

#4 Peter the eater

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 05:36 AM

nickrey, that's just the kind of link I needed to see -- thanks.

I suspected there would be some recipes from elsewhere in the Commonwealth. You know you have an old folky ingredient when there are so many synonyms, and because Shakespeare wrote in King Lear:

"Half-way down, Hangs one that gathers samphire; dreadful trade!"

This apparently means that gathering rock samphire requires climbing skills. The marsh samphire I'm after merely requires bending-over skills.
Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .
Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .
Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

#5 Peter the eater

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 05:40 AM

I found tons of this growing on  a rocky beach here in New Brunswick...it tastes quite salty with a light grassy herbaceous quality...kind of like eating a thin aloe vera plant.  You can saute it quickly in brown butter, add a touch of vinegar and serve with fish...its quite good and definitely regional.

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That's a vivid description -- I can't wait to try some. Have you actually tasted aloe vera?
Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .
Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .
Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

#6 P1800Girl

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 06:11 AM

Peter,
Check out the picture here (scroll about halfway down): http://www.billcasse.../acadia_two.htm (sorry, don't know how to make a clickable link yet)

Maybe if you asked people about 'mouse nipples' you'd get a more engaging response!

Kind of look like a mutant aspargus plant to me.

The little snow pancakes sound yummy too (on the same page)!
-sabine

#7 BonVivant

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 06:38 AM

i have tried it raw and i have tried it blanched. much prefer it flash blanched. juicy and a little salty, nice with shellfish. here one can get samphire at supermarkets.

what i also like but is hard to come by is iceplant (Mesembryanthemum crystallinum L.).

#8 Peter the eater

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 07:36 AM

Peter,
Check out the picture here (scroll about halfway down):  http://www.billcasse.../acadia_two.htm  (sorry, don't know how to make a clickable link yet)

Maybe if you asked people about 'mouse nipples' you'd get a more engaging response! 

Kind of look like a mutant aspargus plant to me.

The little snow pancakes sound yummy too (on the same page)!
-sabine

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Perfect! Thanks, Sabine.

Is there anything Bill Casselman doesn't know? He's helped me a lot on this topic.

I love the word samphire -- it's sounds so mysterious and mystical, like a cross between sapphire and Zamfir, Master of the Pan Flute.

Mouse nipples is also good.
Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .
Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .
Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

#9 rlibkind

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 12:33 PM

I've used it as a side with scallops. Quick blanch. It's occasionally available at Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market.
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#10 Adam Balic

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 01:45 PM

nickrey, that's just the kind of link I needed to see -- thanks.

I suspected there would be some recipes from elsewhere in the Commonwealth. You know you have an old folky ingredient when there are so many synonyms, and because Shakespeare wrote in King Lear:

"Half-way down, Hangs one that gathers samphire; dreadful trade!"

This apparently means that gathering rock samphire requires climbing skills. The marsh samphire I'm after merely requires bending-over skills.

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"Sea fennel" is rock or true samphire (Crithmum maritimum), it is a umbelliferous plant and even tastes a little like fennel. I have a few plants, it grows very easily and makes a lovely pickle.

Salacornia (marsh samphire) I like well enough in the UK, but the local southern Australian species doesn't taste as nice.

#11 Peter the eater

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 02:51 PM

I've used it as a side with scallops. Quick blanch. It's occasionally available at Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market.

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Bob, what name do the RTM vendors use for the stuff?
Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .
Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .
Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

#12 rlibkind

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 05:43 PM

I've used it as a side with scallops. Quick blanch. It's occasionally available at Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market.

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Bob, what name do the RTM vendors use for the stuff?

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Salicornia. Only vendor who ever has it is Iovine Brothers Produce.
Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

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#13 petite tête de chou

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 06:46 PM

Some very interesting information can be found here...
Seabeans
Foraging Texas
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Gordon: MASSIVE, MASSIVE QUANTITIES AND A GLASS OF WATER, SWEETHEART. MY SOCKS ARE ON FIRE.

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#14 Domestic Goddess

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 02:16 AM

I found tons of this growing on  a rocky beach here in New Brunswick...it tastes quite salty with a light grassy herbaceous quality...kind of like eating a thin aloe vera plant.  You can saute it quickly in brown butter, add a touch of vinegar and serve with fish...its quite good and definitely regional.

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That's a vivid description -- I can't wait to try some. Have you actually tasted aloe vera?

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Peter - I've tasted aloe vera here in Korea. It's like a very firm green Jello with a sweet and a very little tinge of saltiness. I've had it in a bottled drink that contained whole chunks of aloe vera floating in it. It is pleasantly refreshing and there's the treat of munching on jello while drinking it.

Korean adjumas (elderly ladies) eat aloe gel raw. They take huge leaves and cut one skin off. They them expose the glistening, raw transparent inner leaf meat and cut it into chunks. Next they pop these chunks whole in their mouths, giggling at one another.
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#15 Magictofu

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 11:59 AM

Salicorna grows wild in the maritimes. Find almost any rocky shore and you should be able to pick your own.

The tastiest ones I found were growing in the St. Lawrence Estuary; because the water is not as salty as in other places, the plants there were not overly salty. I like them raw or barely warmed. When cooked, this plant turns to mush very fast.

#16 Peter the eater

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 02:10 PM

Some very interesting information can be found here...
Seabeans
Foraging Texas

Thanks ptdc, I didn't catch that very good topic because I didn't realize sea beans = rock samphire.

The title of this topic is faulty because Sea Fennel doesn't belong, as Adam Balic points out.

From The Cook's Thesaurus:

  seabean = sea green bean = pousse-pierre = passe-pierre = pousse-pied = salicornia = glasswort = samphire = marsh samphire = sea pickle

and I'll add = sandfire, which seems to be a local thing.

Magictofu, I'll try to forage some from my beach across the road, and some from more brackish waters to see if there's a difference. I keep reading about a woody pith, is this a "you'll know it when you see it" kinda thing?
Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .
Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .
Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

#17 Markian

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Posted 23 March 2009 - 05:11 AM

I found tons of this growing on  a rocky beach here in New Brunswick...it tastes quite salty with a light grassy herbaceous quality...kind of like eating a thin aloe vera plant.  You can saute it quickly in brown butter, add a touch of vinegar and serve with fish...its quite good and definitely regional.

View Post

That's a vivid description -- I can't wait to try some. Have you actually tasted aloe vera?

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I'm not too crazy about aloe vera...I've had in juice form and tried eating a piece off of a house plant....but the samphire mimics its texture and the flavour is definitely redolent of the sea.
I'd rather live in a world without truffles than in a world without onions.