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asparagus, samphire and sea-blite salad

Happy New Year everyone and welcome back!  I hope you and your families all had a great Christmas. Due to some unexpected family dramas I ended up hosting Christmas rather than travelling away to visit family, so it was a bit busier than I planned – grabbing the very last free range turkey from my butcher, hunting around for a nice ham, rapidly planning menus…  You will probably not be surprised to hear I normally spend a bit longer than three days planning and prepping for my Christmas dinner!

I will have to write more about this another time, especially this new-fangled process called brining a turkey that I tried for the first time 🙂

Anyway, that was Christmas – tonight we had a small gathering for New Year’s Eve, and as part of that made a salad with samphire and sea-blite.  I haven’t used sea vegetables before, but bought a mixed box from Snowy River Station, which harvests a range of sea vegetables from their properties at the mouth of the Snowy River.  I got a punnet each of samphire, sea-blite (sea-spray) and karkalla (beach bananas), as well as a jar of pickled samphire.

karkalla

These vegetables have an amazing taste, fresh and crunchy and salty with a touch of sweetness in the karkalla.  I was a bit unsure what to do with them, so I turned to a favourite source, especially for vegetables – Ottolenghi: the Cookbook.

Ottolenghi’s salad had samphire with asparagus, sesame and tarragon, dressed only with oil.  To be honest I was a bit uncertain that it would work, but I’ve made many other fabulous dishes from this book so decided to give it a go.  I added sea-blite as well, as I had both, and used white sesame seeds rather than black, but otherwise made it as written.

pickled samphire

I shouldn’t have doubted of course, the result was amazing!  The salty tartness of the samphire and sea-blite replace both any added salt, plus the acid you would normally add to the dressing, and make a wonderful contrast to the tender (relative) sweetness of the asparagus, with the tarragon’s aniseed coming through quite subtly.  The ingredients are not the easiest to get, but this is definitely worth trying if you can.

I’m interested to hear your experiences with sea vegetables – I’m certainly interested in exploring them further…

Salad with asparagus, samphire and sea-blite

Adapted from Ottolenghi: the Cookbook

  • 3 -4 bunches asparagus, depending on size
  • 100g samphire
  • 75g sea-blite
  • 30ml olive oil
  • 15ml sesame oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 Tbs tarragon leaves
  • 1 Tbs black sesame seeds

Toast the sesame seeds for a couple of minutes and put aside.  Trim the asparagus, and trim any brown bits or woody stems from the samphire.  Gently remove any tough stalks from the sea-blite.

Blanch the asparagus in boiling water for a couple of minutes, add the samphire and cook another minute.  Drain immediately and immerse in cold water to cool.  Drain again, and allow to dry on a cloth.

When ready to serve, put the asparagus and samphire in a bowl, add the sea-blite, oils, garlic and tarragon leaves.  Toss together and season with pepper, sprinkling the sesame seeds over the top.  We had this with some grilled chicken, but it would obviously be fantastic with most seafood.

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