Ah! Samphire! Always such a treat, but so hard to track down. When you do get your hands on some, you get an extra reward by a fishmonger whose smile says "that's a girl who knows her seafood". I know he loves me for always asking for the more unusual stuff, the things that are just that bit harder to track down, and he, like me, enjoys the resulting satisfaction. I like that. A lot. So that's my Ode to the Polish (I think) chubby guy at Fishworks in Richmond... I don't even know his name. Shame on me, but that's easily remedied.
Moving on. I was desperate to find some samphire as soon as the season opened, really, slightly egged on by wanting to re-create (and much improve on) a dish one of my fellow diners recently had at the Cadogan Arms in Chelsea. The idea of scallops, samphire and butter is one that's hard to beat and I like butter as much as the next person (in fact, I am positive I like it a LOT MORE than the next person), but the specimens served at said pub were swimming in obscene amounts of butter, and it wasn't of top quality either.
So I took the opportunity to create a much lighter version at home for an eclectic tapas feast we had with some friends just before our holiday to Spain... Wiebke and Dirk, if you're reading this, it always happens to us, we seem to meet the loveliest people just before relocating somewhere else - we've been living at spitting distance for the past few years, why did it take us so long to find out that we get on like a house on fire???
Anyway, everybody fell in love with this dish - and it couldn't be simpler if you tried. So next time you go to your fishmongers', see if they have some scallops and ask for a handful of samphire as well - it's an excellent source of vitamin C and minerals and, being a diuretic and digestive aid, is currently being investigated as a possibly treatment option for obesity and thought to be beneficial for kidney complaints. Here are some tips on picking your own.
The scallops are easily cleaned and all they need is flash-frying in a pan of melted butter, tossing the blanched samphire in the cooking juices and serving the lot in the shells or on some toasted sourdough - give it a dusting of freshly grated nutmeg, if you want, which is my little secret twist... a very easy, impressive and extremely satifying starter!