Although there are two types of samphire – marsh and rock – only marsh samphire is widely available fresh. Rock samphire has an unpleasant smell when it's fresh, and was traditionally pickled to get rid of this. Marsh samphire is a succulent halophyte (a plant that grows in salt water), with vibrant green fleshy stalks and finger-like leaves. It has a distinctively crisp and salty flavour.
Buy samphire as you need it, because it doesn't keep for long. Wrap it tightly, and refrigerate for not longer than a few days if bought loose. It’s at the height of its season from May to August. Find it on fish counters in supermarkets and at fish shops.
How best to prepare samphire
Samphire can be used raw in salad if it's rinsed well, but because it tends to be very salty, it's more often cooked – either briefly fried in butter, for a couple of minutes in simmering water, or in a steamer for a few minutes. Whatever you do, don’t add any more salt to the water.
Samphire has such a distinctive texture and taste that it doesn’t need any more flavours adding to it. Instead, think of it as a flavour to add to dishes – as well as accompanying fish and seafood, it goes well with lamb and in citrusy salads. You can also use it as an interesting drinks garnish for a gin and tonic.
Buttered samphire recipe
- 100g samphire
- Knob of butter
- Rinse the samphire thoroughly and trim off any tough ends. If you have large clumps then break them up a bit.
- Bring a pan of water to the boil and tip in the samphire. Turn the water down to a simmer and cook for 2-3 mins or until tender.
- Drain well and add the butter while the samphire is hot. Season with pepper, if you like.
Five samphire recipes to try
Samphire & lemony salmon linguine
Add a crisp bite to pasta by tossing some samphire into the pasta water in this linguine recipe.
Gnocchi with parsley, butter & samphire
Samphire fried in butter makes an excellent sauce to serve with gnocchi.
Salmon, samphire & charred cucumber salad
Use samphire with griddled cucumber for a revolutionary salad accompaniment to salmon.
Sea trout with samphire, potted shrimp & lemon
Classic potted shrimp makes a buttery sauce for this smart sea trout and samphire dish.
Sea veg with duck egg on sourdough
Upgrade fried egg on toast by using samphire and duck eggs in this simple but impressive recipe.
Find more delicious recipes in our samphire collection
Which samphire recipe would you like to try? Leave a comment below...