About Samphire


There are two types of samphire. Marsh samphire grows in estuaries and salt marshes while rock samphire, sometimes called sea fennel, grows on rocky shores. The two are understandably confused since they are both connected with the sea, yet they are completely different plants.  The type likely to be sold by a fishmonger is marsh samphire. It is also known as glasswort and is sometimes called sea asparagus, as its shoots are similar to sprue, small asparagus shoots.

Although marsh samphire grows easily and is commonly found all over Europe and North America, it is not cultivated and is only available for a short time while it is in season, normally in late summer and early autumn.

Samphire has a distinctly salty, iodine flavor and a pleasant crisp texture. The flavor is reminiscent of the sea and goes particularly well with fish and seafood. However, samphire can be enjoyed simply steamed and dipped into melted butter.

Buying and Storing : When in season, good fishmongers get regular stocks of marsh samphire, and it should look bright and fresh. Buy it as you need it, as it will not keep for long.

Preparing and Cooking : If necessary, wash marsh samphire under cold running water. It is best steamed over a pan of boiling water for no more than 3 minutes. Alternatively, blanch it in boiling water for 3-5 minutes and then drain. Samphire can be eaten raw but blanching it removes some of the saltiness. To eat samphire, draw the shoots through the teeth to peel the succulent part from the thin central core.

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