Marsh samphire or salicorne as it is called in French is also known as sea asparagus, sea beans, pickleweed and glasswort. It grows along the coastline which explains the first couple of alternative names and traditionally, samphire was pickled in vinegar with references of this dating back to the 17th century but also, samphire ash is used in the production of glass. Resembling skinny asparagus or even a cactus, samphire is vibrant green with smooth, thin branches; it is tender with a pleasant crunch and a salty taste that evokes memories of bracing seaside walks. It is possible to collect this succulent from the rocky costal lagoons in South Western France and many other coastal regions but more conveniently, it is widely available from a fishmonger.

Samphire may be eaten raw; rinse and toss through salad though it is equally delicious in stir fry’s. Jane Grigson suggests samphire as a summer-time vegetable delicacy that needs to be boiled or steamed until just tender then served with melted butter or hollandaise sauce.

With the name sea asparagus in mind, try combining samphire with slim, tender green asparagus shoots, spring onions and walnuts to make an interesting salad to accompany baked salmon or roast meats. Here, the samphire is blanched then griddled before tossing in walnut oil to temper the natural salt flavour.

Rinse and drain the samphire; trim, rinse and drain the asparagus; rinse and drain the spring onions, slicing any large ones lengthways but leave roots intact.

Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the samphire, blanching for 2 minutes. Drain, plunge into ice cold water until cold, drain again and set aside. Repeat with the asparagus.
Heat a griddle pan over a high temperature. When very hot add the spring onions, cooking for a couple of minutes until charred, turn once. Remove to a serving plate and repeat with the asparagus, griddling until just cooked then arranging atop the onions. Griddle the samphire until it begins to colour, set aside in a small bowl and sprinkle with walnut oil. Throw a small handful of walnuts onto the hot pan to toast, remove and allow to cool before roughly crumbling.

Organise the samphire over the asparagus and onions, scatter the crumbled walnuts, drizzling with a little extra walnut oil. Garnish with lemon zest before sprinkling with lemon juice and serve at room temperature.