I was beginning to despair - here we are, almost to the middle of August, and we haven't had any samphire (local pronunciation samfer) yet. That salty, seasonal treat which grows freely along the mud flats, not too far away from here.
Today we managed to get some - hurrah!
I added an assortment of red and yellow tomatoes from the garden and a beautiful piece of salmon fillet to a generous portion of samphire, a drizzle of dressing and found I had a meal fit for a king.
The salmon was simply pan fried, the homegrown tomatoes were oven roasted and full of flavour, both went perfectly with the wonderful green and salty samphire. It was a simple and delicious meal, my kind of food.
If you have never had samphire/Glasswort/Herb de St Pierre you are missing out on a delicious treat.
It is a peculiar looking, dark green succulent plant with many branching thick segments instead of leaves. It is at its best in July and August, after that it is best used for pickling as the structure becomes rather woody with age.
You don't have to go down to the mud flats to pick your own, I bought mine from our greengrocer in a small market town. He obtains a small supply every year. I stop by frequently, checking to see whether it has arrived yet. It wasn't there on Monday but yesterday my daughter managed to get some for me.
To prepare: wash it in many changes of water, you need to get rid of all the sand and any bits of algae. It is worth doing this thoroughly, you don't want sand in your samphire.
Then simply bring some water to the boil, add the samphire, put the saucepan lid back on and let it cook for a few minutes. You could also steam it.
When cooked, the fleshy part will easily pull back from the ribs of the plant. Do not add salt! It is already naturally salty. I don't even bother to add butter or vinegar, but you could. Just don't drown it in vinegar!
In a restaurant one eats with more decorum and it is served in much smaller pieces, but traditionally it is eaten by holding the root end of the cooked plant, then simply stripping the fleshy parts from the ribs...with your teeth! No need for cutlery!
However you choose to eat it, I hope you enjoy this salty seasonal delight.
This is where I note my efforts as I try to recreate some old recipes. Most are taken from my small collection of handwritten recipe books which date from the late 1700's to around 1922. I also have a collection of old tatty old recipe books, well thumbed and heavily splashed from years of use. I love them all!
The old-fashioned very stylised handwriting writing is sometimes difficult to decipher, measurements and cooking instructions are minimal, no tin sizes given. Luckily I enjoy a challenge. Just to complicate things I cook and bake on my wood-fired Rayburn, which can be... unpredictable.
I suspect this blog is less about the food and more about my passion for these lovely old books and the wonderful women who wrote them.