sea beans


Samphire or rock samphire (an anglicisation of herbe de Saint-Pierre), sea bean, sea pickle, sea asparagus, glasswort. High in protein, it is a salty fleshy, fibrous plant growing in coastal marshes and at the edges of tidal pools,  The texture is somewhat like that of asparagus, yielding but crisp.  

It was once harvested, burned, and used as a source of soda ash for glass making.  It has also long been enjoyed as a culinary accompaniment to fish, pickled, steamed, fried, eaten raw or blanched and used in salads.  Steamed or grilled   It has a relatively short growing season and can be hard to find inland from coastal markets.  Look for blue-green to silver-green crisp upright growing stem when fresh.  In cool weather, the stems take on burnished hues of red and bronze. 

The stems may be cut open stripping the fibers from the interior after steaming or boiling.    It may be pickled in white wine vinegar with a little sugar. No salt is required in cooking or to season, as the plant is its own source of salt. 

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