Monday, May 31, 2010

A sea pickle by any other name.

Ok, I should probably be schlepping my book, which comes out tomorrow, in fact. But instead, I’d like to talk about sea pickles, sea beans or samphires, as they are evidently called.

This weekend I took the boat* for an inaugural spin around the Town Cove. On my way down to the mooring, I saw several beds of what I’ve always called sea pickles. Sometimes on a long walk with the dog, I’ll see a patch at the water’s edge, break off a slender tube and gnaw on it, enjoying the burst of sea salty freshness that fills your mouth when you crunch down on a succulent blade, almost like a half sour pickle. While I knew they were harmless to ingest, I never realized they were considered a delicacy until I saw them in the Whole Foods market in Cambridge. Even then, I had no idea how one might use them in cooking.

Then, just last week, this simple recipe showed up on a blog that I’ve recently started following. It seems we Cape Codders are among the .01 percent of people in the world who have access to these little darlings. Who knew?

So, thus inspired, I went down to the beach at the end of my street yesterday and harvested a handful. I sautéed them in a little herb butter, then chopped them up and tossed them on top of my salad. They were great, like tiny green bacon bits, not at all fishy tasting as I’ve read they can be, perhaps because these were still pretty small.

PS. In the spirit of foraging, I also stumbled upon this recipe for locust fritters. Yesterday I noticed the trees were in bloom, such a heavenly scent. Now where did I put that ladder?

*For the record, a 12-foot row boat. Wouldn’t want you to think I don’t need you to buy my books.


Jessica said...

I have always wanted to try these. This year will be the year. And does that mean that Mark Bittman frequents the Cape? Do you think he'd come to the library?

Lynn Kiele Bonasia said...

Actually, that entry was written by a guy named Barry Estabrook, a commerical fisherman and evidently someone who writes for Gourmet.

But do try them. They were good, especially in small doses.