Monday, June 18, 2007

Asparago di mare A.K.A. Samphire

Mmmm... seaweed! here's a vegetable I would have run away from as a child if it had ever occurred to my mother to serve it. Having tried it as an adult, I can say that it's delicious. The English call it "samphire" and it grows in a few coastal areas including Norfolk, where I had it for the first time about a decade ago. Its also rather common here in Italy where it's called Asparago di mare (Asparagus of the sea). This is probably more for the looks of the vegetables than for the flavor. Samphire tastes of the sea, its stalks seem to be pumped full with sea water. This veg obviously goes great with fish and is for sale, in fact at fishmongers and never in the vegetable aisle.

To prepare, just drop into some unsalted boiling water until tender, about 4-5 minutes, then if you're a typical Italian, you'll drizzle on some really good olive oil. If you're a traditional Brit, you'll melt a pad of butter on top. Either way, it's a simple and delicious dish.

To eat: Samphire can be a lot of informal fun. It comes in clusters that resemble long, thin green hands (creepy, no? Just the thing for kids who hate vegetables. I can hear Calvin's mother now: "O.K. Calvin, it's time for fillet of sole with mermaid fingers!") If the samphire is on the large side, there is a filament at the "wrist" that you should hold on to as you put the samphire in your mouth and scrape with your teeth as if this were an artichoke leaf. If the samphire is small, you just eat everything.


Blogger Christina said...

What fun! I want to try some "mermaid fingers"--great description, by the way--but I wouldn't even know where to find them here.

10:51 PM  
Blogger Lea said...


I just discovered this stuff on another blog a few days back! So curious! I havent been able to stop thinking about it and I sooo want to try it!

5:31 PM  
Blogger J at said...

Dang. Now I have to come to Italy. Do you have a guest room?

3:59 AM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Christina, I don't know if they grow in California, they might not, but do you have any local Pacific seaweed that people eat?

Hi Lea, Just hop on over to Italy for your honeymoon :)

Hi J., We have a living room with a hide-a-bed. When are you coming?

11:07 AM  
Blogger Cherry said...

Just the other day my mom handed me a colander full of Samphire that my father had picked and asked my hubby if he knew what it was.
Amazingly he did, and grabbed a piece and ate it.
Apparently it grows in my parent's yard down by the creek and my father happily cooks it up as a treat.

8:54 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hey Cherry, Wow! So samphire DOES grow in Claifornia. You've gotta tell J.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Cherry said...

Nah, she'd rather go to Italy! Hope you're enjoying Greece!

(So Jealous!)

7:22 AM  

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