Since I’ve moved back to the UK, I’ve rediscovered a lot of great ingredients that I had barely used over the last 6 years – and, in fact, I’ve discovered some that I didn’t even know existed. Yesterday, that was samphire.
Samphire is (apparently) a coastal plant of the parsley family. It’s vibrant green, and looks like a cross between seaweed and green beans – which, actually, is what it sort of tastes like too. It grows on shorelines and salty mudflats, and its leaves are the parts that people eat. It was just a pound yesterday so I grabbed some, excited about the idea of trying something new.
Well, newsflash: It’s amazing.
With the subtle saltiness of the vegetable, a lot of people use samphire as a bed for grilled fish – but of course, we can’t do that here. I decided to set the crisp tastiness of the samphire against the crispy softness of barely-fried potatoes, with some brightly coloured and creamy/crunchy ingredients, with the whole thing covered in a thick, tangy vegan aioli.
It was just as good as it sounds.
Vegan aioli is one of those things that really splits a crowd. It definitely needs garlic, lemon and olive oil, but the rest is up for debate. I think the one below is probably the best I’ve ever tasted, as it’s not too greasy but gains a little creaminess from the tahini (in place of egg). It’s quite garlicky, as aioli should be, but if you don’t want to be breathing fire for the rest of the evening, feel free to just use half a clove.
(Feeds 2 or 3)
4 medium sized potatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks (skin on)
100 grams samphire
10-12 radishes, thickly sliced
2 large handfuls watercress
1/4 cup roughly chopped walnuts
1 avocado, sliced
A little olive oil
Salt and pepper
For the aioli:
3 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon granular Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove
salt and pepper
3-4 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons pale tahini
Boil the potatoes in a pan of water until they’re just tender
Drain them in a colander
Heat a little oil in a frying pan (not too much)
Fry potatoes til browning and crispy
While the potatoes are frying, place all aioli ingredients in a blender and blend together ’til smooth, adding just 2 tablespoons of the water at first then adding more as necessary
Add the samphire to the frying pan with the potatoes and cook for a few minutes
Remove from the heat, and place the potatoes and samphire into a large bowl
Add in the watercress, radishes, avocado, walnuts and aioli, and stir to coat in the aioli
Season with salt and pepper and serve right away
This is a really gorgeous and comforting meal that goes just as well with a glass of white wine on a cool summer evening as it does with a crisp cold beer on a hot summer’s night. Try to ensure that all your ingredients are good quality as you’ll really taste them here; make sure your radishes are as crisp as they can be.