Is Samphire available in Korea?

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.

Samphire ThumbnailAnyway, 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.

2 thoughts on “Is Samphire available in Korea?

  1. I know this is an ancient post, Philip… but they definitely have samphire in Korea. I found it in K-mart in New Malden, imported. I’ve got a photo somewhere with the Korean name on it. They have it Japan too (akkeshiso) – and Netherland, Turkey, Greece – , though I have yet to find any Korean or Japanese person that knows it.

    In the UK, the fish stalls at the farmers’ market have it. But maybe you know, it’s become more fashionable since you posted this I think.

    If all fails, it’s easy to pick at the seaside….

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