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ISO Samphire / Salicornia

Suburban Gourmand May 3, 2009 06:18 PM

I tried the St Lawrence Market a few months back, but they had no idea what I was asking for (some vendors tried offering a seaweed salad instead), so I'm sure I'm not describing myself well.

I am looking for Samphire / Salicornia / Grasswort, that is commonly eaten steamed and served with butter. Preferably to buy and cook at home, but open to restaurants serving it too.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. globalgourmand May 3, 2009 08:44 PM

    I think you were describing it well enough-- its just a rare find, especially so far inland as Toronto. It also goes by 'common names' (though inaccurate) such as sea beans, sea asparagus, sea fennel...

    Anyhow, you can keep you eye out at the markets, but it wouldn't be a local supply. You may, perhaps, have more success with an online vendor. Westcoast Seaweed takes orders beginning in July.


    Also, try asking at the Yorkville Whole Foods. Apparently a Whole Foods near Boston, MA had them earlier this month. If some WF US are getting them (though not at my local store,) I imagine WF Canada can get them too.

    1. Full tummy May 3, 2009 10:57 PM

      I have been looking for it for ages. I ate it in Quebec (along the St. Lawrence), fresh, but have not found it in Toronto, not that I have searched exhaustively...

      I'm also going to look into gg's suggestions. Here's hoping.

      1. c
        Cat123 May 4, 2009 05:05 AM

        I got some of it at the Cheese Boutique but it is in brine. Haven't tried it yet.

        1. d
          DrewStar May 4, 2009 08:06 AM

          I thought I saw some before at the vegetable seller in the basement of the St. Lawrence Market (at the bottom of the stairs). As per globalgourmand's suggestion I think you will have better luck calling it sea asparagus or sea beans. Calling it samphire may get you a CD of pan flute music.

          1. Wahooty Jun 18, 2009 05:17 PM

            Hey SG, I don't know if you ever had any luck, but I just bought some sea asparagus today from the Forbes Wild Foods guy at Dufferin Grove market and am now completely obsessed with it. I'm not sure how long/often he's likely to be carrying it, but he is VERY excited about getting people to try it and had quite a bit today.

            8 Replies
            1. re: Wahooty
              DrewStar Jun 18, 2009 09:57 PM

              Forbes is at Riverdale Farmers Market on Tuesdays. I picked some up this week.

              $5 for a good sized bag of salicornia from the west coast of Vancouver Island.

              1. re: DrewStar
                ace123 Aug 4, 2009 04:57 PM

                I saw it today at McEwan, 8 oz for $7.99.

                1. re: ace123
                  Suburban Gourmand Aug 5, 2009 06:40 PM

                  Bah, I've just come back from McEwan having raced over there after just seeing this post, and, guess what, same old story...they had NO IDEA what I was talking about!

                  I asked for Salicornia / Salicorn / Samphire / Grasswort / Marshweed, and I got blank stares. They looked at me like I was from Mars!!

                  I've been advised to come back when "the chef" is in later this week. I assume that means Mark, but maybe not? Hopefully someone, anyone, will know what I am talking about. I'm going to print out a picture from the www.westcoastseaweed.com site!

                  1. re: Suburban Gourmand
                    Full tummy Aug 6, 2009 03:39 AM

                    I've purchased it from Forbes Wild Foods at Brickworks, and someone told me Summerhill Market has been selling it.

                    1. re: Suburban Gourmand
                      Wahooty Aug 6, 2009 04:03 AM

                      You might also try asking for sea beans or sea asparagus. Those seem to be the names I see associated with it.

                      1. re: Wahooty
                        Suburban Gourmand Aug 6, 2009 10:06 AM

                        FOUND IT!

                        Got it at McEwans after a second visit and a good scour. Named under "Sea Asparagus" and in the produce section. Looked a little wilty, but I'll give it a go tonight.

                        Thanks to everyone for the help!

                        1. re: Suburban Gourmand
                          DrewStar Aug 6, 2009 10:26 AM

                          Wilty is not so good. Ideally there should be a succulent, salty crunch to this sea vegetable. I got it from Forbes Wild Foods at the Riverdale Farmers' Market.

                          I don't think McEwans should be selling wilty produce for top dollar IMO.

                          1. re: DrewStar
                            Full tummy Aug 6, 2009 12:15 PM

                            I fully agree. The stuff I purchased from Forbes was in my fridge for almost a week before I used it, and it was still crunchy and in good condition. What does that say about the salicornia McEwan is selling? Not good.

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