You never forget the first time you try samphire. I was nervous and excited – the dawn of a new experience. It had been described to me in a way that I could kind of comprehend (but not quite) as the “asparagus of the sea.” I mean, what does that really mean?
The first time I had it was in Ireland where I attended the Ballymaloe Cookery School in County Cork and became a “certified chef.” Again, what does that really mean? Anyway, Ireland was filled with such wonder and beauty: it was there I fell in love with a boy and Cashel blue cheese with equal candor. And it was there, among the craggy rocks of the Shanagarry coast, that I foraged my first samphire.
Samphire grows in rocky, salty regions and is actually a succulent plant (so trendy). It looks a bit like a mini cactus, without the needles thankfully, and tastes fresh like the ocean, its saltiness a natural companion to fish. It’s really remarkable stuff and I’ve scouring the city for it since moving back. Lo and behold, Echo and I found it last weekend! At a farmer’s market in Doylestown, PA! Can you believe it?!
I obviously bought as much as I could carry and afford (always a tension) and made this really healthy, delicious salad. I was so happy with the samphire that I even cold called the farmer to tell him how importantly he now figured into my life. At first he was super weirded out, but by the end of the conversation we were shooting the shit about our favorite coffee roasters and brainstorming how we were going to change our food system.
Samphire is definitely obscure, but, if you happen to stumble upon it as I did, then buy it IMMEDIATELY and make this salad with kale, peas and salmon! It will take you to unexpected places!
Samphire Salmon Salad
- 1 lb wild salmon
- 3 T olive oil
- 3 oz samphire
- 14 oz fresh peas, with pods
- 1 bunch lacinato kale
- 4 T rice wine vinegar
- 2 T soy sauce
- 2 T sesame oil
- 1 t honey
- 3 T toasted sesame seeds
Allow the salmon to warm to room temperature and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and slather with 1 T of the olive oil. Lay the salmon on top and then cover with the remaining oil before seasoning generously with salt and pepper. Bake for about 10 minutes – I prefer salmon when it’s medium rare and I think you should too.
Meanwhile, lightly salt some water and bring to a rolling boil. Pod the peas while you wait. When the water is boiling, blanch the samphire for a minute, just enough to cook slightly and bring out its green color. Transfer immediately to ice cold water. Next blanch the peas, again for about a minute, and put directly into ice cold water. Finally, remove the stalks from the kale and cut into thin slices, about half an inch thick.
Now it’s time to make the dressing! Mix together the rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and honey. Taste for seasoning and add a little more soy if you feel like it needs saltiness. You’re almost there! Throw all of the ingredients except the salmon into a big bowl and toss with the dressing. Ration to your plates and flake the salmon on top – the colors will really pop! Done!