Sea fennel (Rock Samphire)
“Half-way down, Hangs one that gathers “rock samphire”, dreadful trade”
– Shakespeare, King Lear, 1623”
Samphire is a multiannual wild plant from the ‘splash zone’. It grows on rocks and dikes. Along the coast of the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic coast up until the North Sea coasts. Since time immemorial, the spicy leaves are harvested and eaten. In the 17th century Shakespeare described the picking of ‘Rock Samphire’ on the slippery rocks of South England as a ‘terrible’ business. In a large part of Europe (the Netherlands included) sea fennel is on the ‘red list’ and it is illegal to pick it in the wild. Nowadays, sea fennel is grown for us in Greece. In the winter it is grown in greenhouses, and in the summer it is grown outside. As a salad it has a spicy flavour. It contains a wide range of minerals and is rich in Calcium and Magnesium. In addition, it is a good source of vitamin C. Finally, it also contains a lot of aromatic substances. Sea fennel goes well with shellfish and cooked fish. As a mussel vegetable it gives the mussels a somewhat anise-like flavour. You can also use sea fennel in sauces or stir-fry it.
Sea fennel should be stored in a cool (not too dry!) place. Storage temperature: 2 to 7 degrees Celsius.