Samphire is this decade’s rocket. Ten or 15 years ago, no-one had heard of the peppery salad leaf. At one yuppy dinner party in the early 90s I recall having eaten it boiled like spinach (can’t remember what it tasted like), and you could only get hold of it by growing it yourself. Now it’s everywhere.
Samphire (strictly, marsh samphire — also known as glasswort, salicornia herbacea, I think) today is similarly unavailable. You can get it in fishmongers sometimes, but how many fishmongers are left? Otherwise you have to harvest it yourself from your local saltwater marsh. And retro-cool cookbooks swear by it.
Anyway, as it’s barbecue weather I bought some tuna from my local fishmonger on Saturday, planning to marinade it in an improvised bulgogki marinade. I saw some samphire and bought it on impulse. I’ve cooked it before, but decided this time to do it “Korean style”. This was my feeble effort: plunge into boiling water (unsalted — samphire is salty enough already), bring back to the boil, count to 30, drain and plunge into cold water. Strain it, then dress with sesame seeds and sesame oil. Yum. Still slightly al dente on the outside and juicy inside, like beansprouts. I’m not claiming that it’s the right way to do it (maybe it could have done with something a bit spicier), but I’m sure if a proper Korean cook got their hands on some samphire, it would make a great side dish with all the other kimchis.