Our British Samphire Growers: Westlands WowJuly 10, 2016
Meet William, our samphire grower. Back in 1948, his grandfather made the journey from the Netherlands to the UK. He set up their first nursery in Evesham, supplying local markets with vegetables and ornamental flowers. It’s a family business – William’s father Martin took over the farm and now William himself is the third generation.
Tell us why British samphire is just so great!
It’s the unique way we grow it! By developing our own special cultivating technique, we can harvest samphire at its peak quality and ‘non-woody’ succulence over the full British growing season from May to October. Feedback from our customers also suggested that foraged samphire on occasion can be too unpleasantly salty. We purposely refine the saline levels to give a desirable and delicious balanced taste. Yummy!
When it comes to vegetables – which one is the king?
Well, I’d actually choose a herb and it has to be basil. Even its name means royal plant, the king of herbs! The spicy clove flavour of micro leaf green basil just reminds me of the culinary delights of the Mediterranean. There’s nothing better than the timeless classic; basil scattered over sliced ripe tomatoes and mozzarella with a drizzle of good virgin olive oil! Eat the micro leaf whole, as with a lot of herbs, the stem is also full of flavour! For a twist, I might use purple basil micro leaf, for its striking deep colour and peppery flavour, or the spicy anise tasting Thai basil micro leaf sprinkled over aromatic Thai curries or noodle dishes.
If you were a vegetable, which one would you be and why?
I would pick Sea Kale. What a majestic plant! Found growing wild on the beaches around the UK, people mound up the shingle around the plants to force the succulent blanched shoots to grow – it’s as a seasonal delicacy. Now we do a similar thing on the nursery; just think of gourmet forced rhubarb but for wild cabbage! Available over the winter season, eat the salty sweet stalks raw or gently steamed, traditionally served with a béchamel sauce or melted butter.
What’s your favourite way to cook British samphire?
I gently sautée the samphire in a little butter, lightly seasoned with a crack of freshly milled black pepper. It really doesn’t need much cooking at all; it should be served just ‘al dente’. Delicious!
Our Grilled Haddock with British Samphire
Try it in next week’s box