Skip to main content

Eating & drinking   |   Recipes

How to eat samphire

As we reach the summer solstice and enjoy the longest day of the year, it really feels like summer is beginning and an abundance of seasonal fruit and veg are here for us to enjoy.

The appearance of marsh samphire is always eagerly awaited - this crisp, succulent sea vegetable only grows in salt marshes and tidal mudflats and has a unique salty tang.

Sometimes called ‘sea asparagus’, this tiny succulent plant is the perfect complement to fish or lamb. Surprisingly versatile, it is quick cooking and can be used in many ways – stir at the end through a seafood risotto or add to creamy omelettes. It’s glorious in summer salads, too, scattered through cherry tomatoes, broad beans, new potatoes and spring onions for a fresh seasonal side – explore this vibrant recipe here.

Samphire salad  

If you are tempted to try foraging, June to August is the best time. There are other coastal plants that look similar, such as rock samphire which has an odd pungent flavour, so do get help to carefully identify your finds and make sure you stay aware of tide times as it’s easy to get absorbed in picking.

At Riverford, samphire is hand-harvested from the beautiful Erme Estuary, from what was an organically-certified field that was flooded by the sea.

To serve samphire as an accompaniment, simply boil or steam it for three mins. Drain and toss in a little unsalted butter, olive oil, black pepper and a squeeze of lemon. Alternatively, try cooking it in unsalted butter for a few minutes. You probably won’t need any extra sea salt to season, as it’s salty enough, but taste before you serve. Snap it up while you can – the season is short, but the rewards are great.

Whole roast mackerel, samphire with chewy garlic and devilled tomatoes

This lovely, sea-themed whole roast mackerel, samphire with chewy garlic and devilled tomatoes recipe can be cooked in less than an hour. There are three strong and bold components to this meal: salty samphire, rich mackerel, and acid-sweet tomatoes which cut through the oiliness of the fish.


New potato and samphire frittata with basil and chives

Samphire doesn’t have to be served with fish or meat; if you’re vegetarian it pairs well with eggs, too. We’ve included some aromatic fresh herbs in this new potato and samphire frittata with basil and chives. If you are an adventurous cook and confident forager, in true midsummer style this recipe can even be made outdoors with freshly-picked samphire. 


Samphire pickle

Last but not least, if you get a bumper harvest, turn some into a delicious pickle, great served with pâté and cheeses, or chopped into mayonnaise and served with fish. 


    Diana J Newson

    2 Years 1 Month

    Thank you so much for the vegan salad recipe, I love samphire but haven't really known what to do with it since trying to be 100% plant-based. Diana

    1 Reply

    view replies

    Comments Editor

    2 Years 1 Month

    Wonderful, hope you enjoy it Diana - Samphire is such a delicious seasonal ingredient.

    0 Reply

    Wicked Leeks is out now

    Cover star, Jyoti Fernandes, tells of the small producers standing up for their rights, while elsewhere we explore climate-friendly eating and how to eat seasonal in spring.

    Read more

    Ecological farming can feed UK if diets change

    New report outlines how diets can support an ecological farming system in the UK to cut carbon, restore nature and preserve farming livelihoods.

    Read now
    veg box

    Ethical organic veg. Delivered.

    Set up by Guy Singh-Watson, Riverford now delivers across the country with a full range of fresh produce, meat, dairy and more.

    Shop now
    Spread the word

    The twin crises of climate change and biodiversity losses will be the defining stories of our future, but it is not too late to change direction. 

    Here at Wicked Leeks, our mission is to help inform and inspire positive change. Our journalism is free to all because of this, but we want to reach as many people as possible who share our desire for a better world. We know our readers are some of the biggest advocates of sustainable living, and you can help us grow this movement by sharing this article widely, with your friends and on social media. Now is the time to act.