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Samphire: The Next Superfood?

Home > Everywhere > Health and Beauty | Food and Wine
Published March 16th 2013
Is there room in your kitchen for another superfood?
Now I think I am right in saying many of us have had our fill of the word "superfood". The term doesn't have a legal definition and it's overused as a marketing tool, too often misleadingly.

Nevertheless, in this world rife with food blogs and reality TV cooking shows and people who stand on their chairs in restaurants to "get-the-shot" of their glass of water, it seems superfoods are here to stay.

I stood on a chair to get-the-shot of this samphire

In which case, I would like to whisper to all of you quinoa-, kale-, and chia-munchers out there: samphire just might be the next superfood coming soon to a food or health blog near you.

Samphire is hardly new. This vegetable (also known as sea asparagus, sea beans, pickleweed, or glasswort) is mentioned by Shakespeare in King Lear:
...half way down
Hangs one that gathers samphire, dreadful trade!
(Act IV, Scene VI)

A punnet of fresh samphire

In centuries past it graced tables throughout Europe, and more recently it was eaten by convicts on their way to Australia. At some point, however, samphire lost favour in the kitchen. Perhaps the food snobs of the day refused to eat what the convicts ate and the masses followed suit? In any case, and to our good fortune, over the past few years there has been a resurgence of interest in samphire -- in Europe, in America and now in Australia.

What is samphire and where does it grow?

Samphire is a succulent that grows in brackish water near the ocean. It grows prolifically and often wild along coastlines in England, northern Europe, northwest America, and southern Australia. It is farmed hydroponically on floating platforms in Hawaii, and I expect in other parts of the world as well.

This is not how samphire grows. The shoots are standing in a mug for artistic purposes only.

What does samphire look like?

The shoots are bright green, thin, smooth, and branched. Some commentators say it looks nothing like asparagus (its namesake here in Hawaii), but I disagree. For me, the resemblance is there. I can see a bonsai asparagus plant with branching fingers, can you?

Bonsai (sea) asparagus?

What does samphire taste like?

It tastes salty, in a good way; like your lips and your skin taste after a swim in the ocean. Its texture is tender, crisp, and crunchy. Eaten raw, it's delicious in a green salad, or as an accompaniment to sushi or seafood. However, if you want less of a salt burst, you might prefer to add it to a stir-fry or to blanch it before throwing it in your salad mix.

My current supplier is Olakai Hawaii. They have a stall at the Waimea Valley farmers' market where they sell fresh samphire in punnets and also what they call Ocean Pesto, which is a mix of samphire, garlic, macadamia nuts, Italian parsley, basil, lemon juice, pepper and olive oil. Yum.

You can find a few recipes for samphire on Olakai Hawaii's website. I haven't tried these. A few famous TV chefs also have recipes for samphire, but I haven't tried these either. For now, I like my samphire neat and raw.

What are the nutritional and health benefits of samphire?

I am not a food scientist, nutritionist, or dietitian, so I can't attest to the validity of the following claims. You will need to do your own research to confirm this, but apparently samphire:

-is rich in vitamins A, B and C
-is a source of folic acid
-improves mood, alertness, concentration and visual clarity
-aids digestion
-cleanses the liver
-eases kidney complaints
-helps to treat obesity
-improves muscle function
-relieves flatulence
-the list goes on...

What I can attest to is that samphire is minimally processed, easy to prepare, and delicious. I feel good after I eat it. I think it is a super food.

Have you tried samphire? What do you think of it? Do you have a favourite samphire recipe you would like to share?
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Why? Samphire tastes good and it just might be good for you too.
Where: Search the internet to find your local samphire supplier.
Cost: Prices vary. In Hawaii you can buy two punnets for US$7 (approx. US$30/kg).
Your Comment
where can I buy it in sydney???
by maria (score: 1|57) 1831 days ago
Mmm, me and my kids just had samphire mixed with garden peas and fresh mint fresh from the garden. We had it with baby potatoes and smoked haddock. It was so nice and a hit with the's gonna be a regular at our table now
by Bcalb (score: 0|2) 620 days ago
I've just come across this sublime succulent in sainsburys in England. Tastes great in omelette! Superfood me right up. Thanks for the great article and pics.
by carys (score: 0|2) 938 days ago
I've just come across this sublime succulent in sainsburys in England. Tastes great in omelette! Superfood me right up. Thanks for the great article and pics.
by carys (score: 0|2) 938 days ago
Samphire , lovingly grown by Outback Pride at Reedy Creek Nursery Go to BU Organics and Wholefoods
by reedy (score: 0|2) 1462 days ago
Samphire is a good source of natural iodine. Iodine deficiency can lead to thyroid problems, so the food industry adds it artificially to table salt. Low salt diets, or diets using only unprocessed sea salt have lowered iodine consumption in recent years. Samphire is an easy way to add it back naturally.
by niged (score: 0|3) 1517 days ago
Samphire from Snowy River Station Australia
by andre (score: 0|2) 1634 days ago or call 0402383352 in australia for Samphire
by andre (score: 0|2) 1634 days ago
I use samphire for one year, I really like it seem my skin getting brighter and my hair looks longer and thicker I did not change my diet or anything ALS but only I did Samphire to my food three time a week just like it and I enjoy eating it
Hope you try it............Juliet
by julie (score: 0|2) 1725 days ago
I felt clean after eating samphire. Like I feel after swimming in the ocean. It's a natural product we should eat more food that nature provides. My first time but not my last, and I found it by chance in the supermarket 😘
by Posit (score: 0|2) 512 days ago
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