On the siltier (not the sandy) beaches around Anglesey you’ll often find marsh samphire growing. It’s known by many names, including ‘poor man’s asparagus’, but it doesn’t taste much like asparagus!
One day, there will be no signs of the plants. But then all of a sudden they will start to appear: usually around the end of May or early June. Once they’ve emerged, they grow very quickly, soon resembling a miniature forest if you’re down at their level or a carpet of grass from above.
Marsh samphire is edible, and it’s not unpleasant. The youngest shoots can be eaten raw. They’re crunchy, juicy, salty and taste fresh and ‘green’. As the stems mature, they’re usually steamed or briefly boiled before being tossed in butter to serve.
When the plants are older still and they’ve become a little tough, some people pull the cooked plants through their teeth to extract the inner flesh, leaving the skins behind.
Marsh samphire’s botanical name is usually given as Salicornia europaea.