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Samphire – An Alternative to Asparagus

Samphire is a vegetable that has become very fashionable of late, and here at Knockderry House we are often asked where it comes from and how our guests can purchase some for themselves. We use samphire as an accompaniment to many of our fish dishes at this time of year. It is a delicious vegetable which grows in abundance in many of our coastal areas of Scotland. We get our samphire from our local fishmonger – in Helensburgh – but there are a variety of specialist suppliers too.

Samphire comes in two varieties, marsh and rock, and both are currently in season until September. Marsh samphire, which is found in coastal estuaries such as the Moray Firth, has a similar appearance to small cacti, and is sometimes referred to as “poor man’s asparagus“. Rock samphire has close ties with parsley and fennel and is less common.

It is really easy to cook – just boil or steam it for 3 or 4 minutes then season and serve with melted butter and lemon wedges. However, you can pickle it, even eat it raw in salads or cooked in a variety of dishes. Being a coastal plant, it does go particularly well with fish or as part of a dish such as seafood risotto.

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