Marsh samphire is a seasonal delicacy that grows on tidal marshes around Britain. The best marsh samphire is covered by every tide, giving it a distinctive taste of the sea. If you happen to be in a coastal area this summer you can pick it at low tide. Otherwise look out for it in farmers markets, specialty food shops and fishmongers.
Marsh samphire has a briny, mineral intensity, so it’s a natural partner for fish. It’s also delicious raw in a salad, deep fried in beer batter or folded into an omlette. It doesn’t keep that well, after a few days in the fridge it will begin to lose its vibrancy and crunch, so if you have a glut it’s best to preserve it.
To pickle samphire, wash it thoroughly and pack it into a sterilised jar. Put equal amounts of water, sugar and white wine vinegar into a pot. Drop in some bay leaf, fennel seeds & star anise to flavour. Bring to the boil then pour over the samphire so it’s completely submerged. Screw on the lid and store in a cool place for a month. The result is wonderfully intense pickle, which will add complexity and texture to even the simplest plate of smoked fish.
Lemon Sole with Samphire, Tomato, Herbs & Coriander Seeds
Preparation time 25 minutes
Cooking time approx. 20 minutes
1 Lemon Sole – approx. 800g – cleaned & scaled Splash Olive Oil
1 Shallot – finely diced
50g Marsh Samphire – washed & tough stalks removed 1 Plum Tomato – peeled, seeded and diced 1 Teaspoon Coriander Seeds – lightly toasted
Basil, Chives – torn basil & chopped chives to taste 100g Butter – diced
1 lemon – zest & juice separate
- Pre-heat oven to 180C.
- Line a large baking tray with baking paper & lightly oil.
- Season the fish on both sides & place in the paper. Sprinkle over the diced shallots & lemon zest. Drizzle with oil & wrap to form a parcel. Bake for 15 minutes.
- Warm the lemon juice & gradually whisk in the butter over a low heat to form an emulsion. Do not over heat or it will split.
- Add the diced tomato, coriander seeds & herbs. Lightly season. Keep warm.
- When the fish is cooked remove from the oven and leave to rest for a few minutes before unwrapping.
- In the meantime bring a pot of water to the boil and cook the samphire for 1 minute. Drain.
- Open the parcel. Sprinkle over the samphire & dress with the butter sauce.
- Serve with Jersey Royals and watercress.