In season from now until September, marsh samphire is a sea plant that grows wild mainly along the coast of East Anglia and Humberside on muddy, salty flats washed by the tides.
These emerald green knobbly stems are a prized delicacy, sometimes known as sea fennel or poor man’s asparagus that can be found at fishmongers and farmers’ markets during summer.
Traditionally samphire is pickled in vinegar but the succulent stalks are delicious lightly steamed and eaten fresh with garlic and lemon butter or with white and oily fish. Samphire is naturally salty so wash well in cold water before use.
Galton Blackiston, the Michelin-starred head chef at Morston Hall in Norfolk, has a recipe for local new potatoes with bacon, samphire and soya beans in his new book Summertime (£18.99, Virgin Books). The bacon lardons are fried with shallots and garlic and mixed in a bowl with the other cooked ingredients and a large knob of unsalted butter. Serve with an easy-going red to match the saltiness, such as a ripe fruity 2008 Recchia Bardolino, Italy for around a fiver from Waitrose.