Rock Samphire: an underrated treasure!
My phone rang and my friend, chef Vasilios Kafaloukos, was on the other line. He told me that his friend who produces rock samphire needs a photographer. I was like “oh, yeah, ok, sure!”. Then he said “do you know what it is?” and I was like “yes, I have heard of it”, meaning that I didn’t even know what it looks like. And that’s because I never really looked for it, as I didn’t think I would like it. Little did I know…
Rock samphire or sea fennel or crithmum
Rock samphire, this valuable plant, was first discovered by the ancient Greeks. Hippocrates was very fond of it, and so was famous botanist Dioscorides. It was used since their time in ancient Greek cuisine.
A gift of the sea
But what is rock samphire, and why do I think it is so valuable? Well, first of all: Rock samphire is an edible, fragrant plant with a strong aroma and taste, which is dribbled by the salty wind of the sea -as it grows near it- and is truly saturated in aromas. It has diuretic properties and helps in the release of toxins. It is antibiotic and antibacterial, and is rich in vitamin C. Just 100 gr of the herb meets the body’s daily needs for this vitamin -which I was shocked to learn! And last but not least, it contains omega-3 and omega-6 fats.
Aromatic, hot and spicy
Now, gastronomically, we can safely say that we are talking about a treasure! What amazed me the most, was that rock samphire goes well with almost anything! Meat, fish, legumes, greens… It is rather shocking that this plant was overlooked in the cuisines for many years… I couldn’t find why, no matter how hard I tried. But thankfully, recently you can find it literally everywhere! From the tavern that is in the middle of nowhere, to the most gourmet and fine dining restaurants all over the world! There is a reason why many celebrity chefs use it, such as Gordon Ramsey, Jamie Oliver and Allain Ducasse.
It only takes one bite
Going back to the beginning of this article, I can tell you that I was very sceptical about the herb. Anthi, the producer/client/now-friend, encouraged me to try it. Not wanting to insult her, I accepted, and I remember going from “yes, thank you, please give me just a small piece” to “GIVE ME THAT JAR!!!!!”
So next time you visit Greece, look for samphire! If you have never tried it before, I have to warn you: It is addictive…
I was born in Athens, in 1982. I've loved cooking since I was a small kid, and photography since I was a teenager. In 2018, I decided to combine these passions and now I am really glad and proud to be a Professional Food Photographer. At the same time, I like to consider myself a cook, and a food enthusiast! Join me, and let's explore together the magical world of taste and food presentation!