Something New and Turkish - Samphire in Olive Oil

Tuesday August 28, 2012

By Elizabeth Taviloglu, Guide for Turkish Food

Have you ever heard of samphire? I didn't until I spent some time in Turkey. If you live in Europe, maybe you know it by a different name.

Does glasswort sound familiar? How about pickleweed? Maybe you've seen recipes featuring sea grass or sea beans in your favorite seafood or Mediterranean restaurant.

All these names refer to this nutritious and suprisingly delicious salt water marsh grass that has been used historically in cooking for centuries.

What ever you call it, it's no matter. The important thing is to know how to eat it. I found that with samphire, the best way is to keep it simple and not mix too many flavors.

For first-time samphire eaters, I encourage you to try this easy recipe for Turkish-style samphire with olive oil and garlic. It's easy and delicious served the classic way -- as a "meze," or appetizer, or as a salad or vegetable side dish.

It has only a few ingredients, and is very economical, especially if you can pick your own samphire.

If you like it even simpler, it also tastes fine served warm with a little butter. No need to salt it in either case. Samphire is naturally very salty.

I live in the city but I can still get good, fresh samphire when it's in season. I wait anxiously each spring for samphire to arrive in bunches at my local green grocer.

After you steam it and remove it from it's stiff stems, the samphire is soft with a springy texture. It turns a bright green color when cooked and it tastes something like asparagus. My son always brags that he's eaten seaweed.

Learn more about samphire

If you live in a place where fresh water meets the sea, you can pick fresh samphire yourself. Once you try samphire and find a good source, check out these other great recipes and articles:

Mussels with Samphire

Pickling Samphire Along the Suffolk Coast

Photo © Sarah Allison -


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