Healthy Eating With Samphire
Samphire Salad and Mackerel
Samphire? Just what is samphire I can hear a lot of readers saying. Well I will explain later but you should know it is full of minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium phosphorus, silica, zinc, manganese. Also it contains vitamins A, C, B2, B15 and D. Not surprising then when eaten with an oily fish it is considered to provide a really healthy meal.
Samphire was eaten by seamen on long voyages in the days of sail to combat diseases such as scurvy, and who wouldn't listen to a sailor.
In this lens I shall introduce samphire, although eaten for centuries it is not a common food in modern kitchens but has received a new lease of life recently. In fact it is a seaweed or at least mostly grows in marshy ground in salt water, also known as Glasswort and poor man's asparagus.
It can be eaten raw in salads having a crunchy and salty taste it goes perfectly with the taste and softer texture of fish. This recipe looks at a three coloured salad with samphire and lettuce providing a green base; beetroot, tomato anad pepper providing a touch of red; and finally potato, shallot and cucumber providing the third colour, white.
A simple dressing gives a tasty and healthy side dish which goes well with any fish but here we concentrate on Mackerel.
Mackerel is easily obtained in brine which can be flaked and served with the samphire salad. 100 gm of cooked mackerel provides 1.3 gm of omega-3 fatty acids and selenium and niacin (B3) and B6 and B12 vitamins.
I hope you will try to be able to enjoy this easy, quick and healthy meal.
The image here and all images on this page unless otherwise noted are by the author and the copyright belongs to John Dyhouse.
Ideas For Healthy Salads - From Amazon
Amazon is of course a well respected and trusted site which offers many products, here I suggest a few books with recipes and ideas for varying your salad meals.
I know that in my house, salad tends to mean the same thing every time - no arguments with that because it is often a case of using what is in the fridge and on hand. A little forethought I have found however, can provide many different ways of enjoying an healthy side dish with many mealtime favourites.
Links To Help With Samphire Recipes - And Information About Samphire
I have found a few sites which it is well worth reading on this delicious and healthy vegetable. Why not bookmark this page to keep the list handy.
- BBC Good Food
General information about samphire and how to prepare it, a short read
- BBC, Samphire recipes
recipes for samphire, mostly cooked.
- UKTV Food
Information and recipes for samphire
- A Modern Herbal (turn of the 20th century)
Botanical information for samphire
- Join The Samphire Brigade
Newspaper article about the revival of this vegetable.
- The Samphire Site
"What it says on the tin"
- Australian article
growing harvesting and eating samphire
- The British Larder
Hot samphire salad with bacon
- Samphire risotto
A recipe for samphire risotto
- Lennart's Recipes
A samphire salad recipe with mozarella
- Healthy raw kitchen
Information on Sampire
- Rosie's Food Diary
similar to the above, info on samphire
- Seaside nutrition
very basic info on several seaside foods
Have You Ever Heard Of Samphire? - A Little Poll
I have not often come across this vegetable and possibly you may not have already heard of it before coming to this page, it would be interesting to find out how well-known it actually is.
The image here is in the public domain, click on the image for the source at Wiki Commons
Please take the time to answer this one simple question.
Have you heard of samphire as a culinary plant?
Samphire The Vegetable
Samphire, or at least the most common variety, is found growing in salty, marshy areas near the sea. It is basically a seaweed of the family N.O. Umbelliferae. It is a succulent, green, multi-branching plant which has a nuber of common names: sea-fennel, glasswort or sea asparagus.
It should be well-washed to remove all sediment, etc but retains a pleasant salty taste with a crunchy texture when eaten raw or lightly cooked. It can be steamed (two minutes maximum), stir-fried ( 2-3 minutes), or boiled ( again 2-3 minutes). In each case do not overcook as this will spoil the texture.
When cooked it is usually served with a small knob of butter and pepper. However, if preferred, you can use a little extra virgin olive oil.
Samphire contains minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium phosphorus, silica, zinc, manganese. And also contains vitamins A, C, B2, B15 and D.
now to the recipe ......
SAMPHIRE SALAD WITH MACKEREL
The Raw Ingredients
It is a little over the top calling this a recipe because it is just a matter of taking the basic ingredients, washed and sliced as necessary and presenting the salad in as exciting a way as possible. So what did I use?
- samphire, washed
- little gem lettuce, washed and sliced
- cucumber, peeled if you want to and sliced
- tomato, I used a tomato cut into eigths but cherry tomatoes would be acceptable
- sweet red pepper, washed deseeded and sliced into thin batons
- beetroot, cooked baby beet are favourite
- Shallot, I used a pointed echallion shallot, sliced across the shortest dimension
- potato, boiled new potatoes are the best or use a good boiling potato and slice. May be hot or allowed to cool for serving later.
Samphire Salad - Enjoy Your Efforts
It is a very quick and as has been said a very healthy meal with which to tempt your tastebuds. Have a go and let me know if you enjoy it, the three colours are spectacular and in this photo you can see how I went to town with the presentation - after all I am an artist first and a chef ..... last. Enjoy!
I laid it out as follows, but of course you can use your own judgement and artistic flair.
Place a few potatoes on the plate/server and fill in between them with the sliced lettuce.
I made a line of cucumber portions and then completed it with sliced shallot at each end of the board I was using.
I then placed the tomato portions around the board.
Add some of the samphire randomly to partially cover the ingredients.
I then carefully layered the sweet pepper batons radially onto the board.
A little more of the samphire to mix in with the pepper was the final touch.
A truly artistic presentation, though I do say so myself.
The Salad Dressing
I used a very simple but a very tasty dressing:
- A little extra virgin olive oil
- white wine vinegar, about the same amount as the oil
- a teaspoon of honey
- fresh ground black pepper to taste
Whip the ingredients to disperse the pepper and dissolve the honey. Then just spoon over the salad or allow individuals to put on the amount o dressing to their own taste.
Completing The Meal
With The Mackerel
My cookery is of the simplest kind and to complement the salad I used a tin of mackerel in brine. A little bit of a cheat but then why not "do a Delia" and make it easy on yourself.
The day following, I still had some of the samphire left and making more salad, tried it out again with a different meal. This time, a cheese souffle. I thought it went surprisingly well even though I had flavoured the souffle with shallots and chives. I think that I will be using this interesting and delicious vegetable again. I will be steaming and /or stir frying it next time to try it out cooked.
Enjoying The Meal
I must admit that I enjoyed this meal very much. The samphire was a completely new taste for me and went extremely well with the salad and the fish.
I opened a californian zinfadel to accompany and wash down the food and ate it with two slices of crispbread, just to maintain the healthy balance.
Go on try it!
Samphire is something that I have seen on TV cookery programs and often thought about using, this week I mad a determined effort to find some, as I was cooking (?) a meal for my wife who had had a very busy week. Our local supermarket had some on sale in the produce section, although I am told that many shops sell it on the fish counter as it is so suited to seafood because of its slight saltiness and texture.
Have you tried it yet?