“The taste of summer by the sea” is the luscious metaphor that Barry Lazar, the Flavourguy, uses to describe salicorne — a low, fleshy annual plant widespread in France on all the coasts and in Lorraine in salt marshes. Salicorne is a member of the halophyte family, and thrives in arid land, such as the coastal desert of Abu Dhabi.
Its thick, tender tube-like shoots resemble bloated asparagus and are deliciously edible. In fact, some call salicorne “sea asparagus”. Salicorne is rich in minerals — iron, sodium, potassium, magnesium, iodine, sulfur, zinc, calcium, phosphorus — and can be eaten raw as appetizers, or in salads, or cooked in omelets, and can even be prepared like green beans. Some people liken salicorne’s flavor to salty spinach or asparagus.
Other common names for salicorne are salicot, sea beans, pickleweed, glasswort, and Salicornia from the the related genus Sarcocornia fruticosa. In England, salicone is known as samphire.
There is also a Mexican variety referred to as salicornia. “The Mexican salicornia is a subtropical variety called Salicornia bigelovii. It slightly differs from the species that is being harvested along Europe’s shores (Salicornia europea). Careful selection and breeding has turned it into a large and sturdy plant with many branches. It is somewhat saltier than other varieties, but has a better taste (it contains less saponins and hardly any woody fibres).”
Salicorne can be cooked, steamed, microwaved, or eaten raw, and is often served as an accompaniment to seafood. The edible fleshy part has a texture similar to spinach or asparagus and is pulled from the hard stringy core after cooking.
Salicorne Recipe/Video Courtesy of Pinchof.com:
First wash and put salicorne in a pot. Add water and boil for 10-15 minutes. After boiling take the boiled salicorne from the pot, drain in a colander, and rinse in cold water.
Stretch from both edges and peel off the hard stringy core. After pulling off the fleshy edible part, mash garlic cloves, and then put the mashed garlic on the peeled salicorne; pour olive oil and lemon juice on it, then mix it all up carefully, and enjoy.