Samphire - a foodie's view

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The Independent Online
Since samphire grows in the wild, it has a restricted growing season. And this is well worth adhering to: by September samphire is downright fibrous - June to August are usually the prime months when the plant is plentiful and also tender.

It is a vegetable that enjoys a certain cachet. You find it in good fishmongers and occasionally in delicatessens, but it is unlikely ever to reach the supermarket shelves. You should buy the wild plant - if you come across cultivated imports, avoid them.

Samphire is a surprisingly durable vegetable and it will keep in a paper bag in the bottom of the fridge for some days. It won't wilt on you, at most it will begin to turn sludgy in places and the offending fronds can simply be picked out.

To eat, samphire is delectable. The fronds are plump, with a concentrated salinity that comes direct from the brackish waters that feed it. And it is this that makes the cooked vegetable such a good match for fish.

Like asparagus, samphire does not require huge dressing up: blanched briefly and dressed with butter is the optimum treatment. It also makes a delicious contrast to the sweetness of ratatouille. True enthusiasts, though, will settle for samphire with a plate of buttered brown bread. Whatever, once tasted, never forgotten.

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