Private Chef Essex - Paige Bartholomew

Ingredient Of The Month: Samphire

In recent years, there’s been a surge in the culinary spotlight shining on samphire. Esteemed by chefs for its salty yet refreshing taste, this vibrant green delight has become a staple in many restaurant kitchens across the UK. But what exactly is samphire, and where can you find it?

What Is Samphire?

First things first, let’s clear up any confusion. When we talk about samphire, we’re referring to rock samphire, not its marshy cousin. Also known as glasswort, this name harks back to its intriguing historical use in the glassmaking industry during the sixteenth century. But don’t let its industrial past fool you; this botanical gem is now a sought-after ingredient in the culinary world.

Where to Find Samphire

The good news is that samphire is not an elusive treasure; it’s abundant in the UK. Between May and August, when it’s in season, you’ll likely find it adorning the fish counters of most supermarkets. Just remember, when selecting your samphire, opt for the freshest bunches. Look for vibrant green hues and crisp textures, avoiding any limp or lacklustre specimens.

Cooking with Samphire

Now that you’ve got your hands on some fresh samphire, it’s time to get cooking. But first, a word of advice: always give your samphire a thorough wash to rid it of any sand or dirt. Trim away any roots and tough stems, ensuring you’re left with only the tender, edible parts.

The most common cooking method for samphire involves a quick blanching in boiling water or steaming for a few minutes. But here’s a tip: resist the urge to salt the water, as samphire brings its salty punch to the table. After blanching, elevate your dish by tossing the samphire in melted butter or olive oil for an added depth of flavour.
Feeling adventurous? Why not try your hand at tempura samphire? Coat the cleaned stems in a light tempura batter and fry them until golden and crispy. It’s a delightful twist on a classic dish.

Pairing Perfection

Given its pronounced salty flavour profile, samphire is a natural match for seafood. Picture succulent crab ravioli with a delicate samphire garnish or a sumptuous fillet of brill adorned with a rich lobster sauce and a sprinkle of this verdant herb.

But let’s not limit Samphire’s potential. It also plays well with salt marsh lamb, adding a distinctive savouriness to hearty dishes like lamb belly with amaranth and milk skin. And for a simpler affair, consider incorporating samphire into new potato salads or alongside bacon and broad beans for a rustic yet refined accompaniment.

Samphire may have humble origins, but its rise to culinary stardom is undeniable. With its salty yet fresh taste and versatility in the kitchen, it’s no wonder this vibrant green herb has captured the hearts (and taste buds) of chefs and food enthusiasts alike. So the next time you’re perusing the produce aisle or dining out, keep an eye out for samphire – it’s a culinary adventure waiting to be explored.

Want to experience food in a new and exciting way? Get in touch with private chef Paige Bartholomew and make sure your next event is a success.


Private Chef Essex - Paige Bartholomew