Saturday, 14 September 2013

Marsh Samphire and Sea Purslane coconut broth

  Marsh Samphire is cool.  No really, it is - seasonal, British, and expensive.  What was once only fodder for the frugal forager, it now frequents Rosette quality cuisine - much the same way Monkfish was once considered peasant food, and yet fetches some of the highest prices at market nowadays.  

Luckily, you needn't empty your wallet to get this on your plate, as it is relatively easy find in intertidal areas such as estuaries and salt marshes.  I picked this lot in Rye, East Sussex - follow the estuary toward the sea starting at the bridge by the fishmongers and you will be sure to find Marsh Samphire and Sea Purslane in great abundance.  I caught the tail end of the season with this lot (mid September), but for the best Samphire head out in June/July.  Although, like Samphire, Purslane is better in Spring/Summer, it can be eaten practically the whole year round - it's like a succulent, salty, crisp - great for chucking in with roast potatoes for a bit of extra crunch. 

Sea Purslane

Samphire forest

You can see the lower ends of the stems have turned woody here - pick only the
upper / side fronds
Scissors or a knife are a must, otherwise you end up pulling the whole plant up 

Samphire in the background, Purslane in the foreground

Samphire (left), Fennel (middle), some sort of lemon-smelling wild thyme? (any ideas?), Purslane (right)

When it's late season, it is sensible to discard the woody stem and eat only the
most succulent end fronds


- Noodles (I used fresh Udon)
- Coconut milk
- Small Shallot
- Field Mushrooms
- Kaffir lime leaves
- Soy Sauce
- Marsh Samphire
- Sea Purslane

Super quick and easy recipe this one.  Sweat off one small shallot in a wok, turn the heat up and add the mushrooms for twenty seconds or so, then add the coconut milk (I used a mini tin as it was just me eating), 4 or 5 kaffir lime leaves, 1 tbsp of soy sauce, and the Marsh Samphire. Let this cook on full heat for a minute or so, then add the fresh noodles (if you are using dry, it would be worth boiling them separately and adding at the end) and cook for another one or two minutes.  You want the Samphire to be tender but still with a bit of crunch.  Plate up and garnish with chopped Sea Purslane leaves, done.  For a five minute easy dinner, this really is a good'n. 

I think the raw Sea Purslane adds a nice, fresh crunch to the dish, but if you'd prefer them cooked then chuck them in at the same time as the noodles.

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