© 2009-2011 Quality Eating and Drinking London Ltd

 

© 2009-2011 Quality Eating and Drinking London Ltd

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Sea aster

From the fish counter at Waitrose

Well, it looks like spinach. It acts like spinach in cooking. But there is a difference.

Sea aster is more a foreshore vegetable than a sea vegetable: it doesn't live in the water like bladder-wrack. But we found it washed up above the high-tide mark on Marylebone High Street, and decided that it would be worth a try. You may already have tried samphire: the PR gurus try to tell you it's like asparagus. Well, actually, it's like a silicaceous green bean, and sea aster bears the same relationship to spinach. There's a feeling that the vegetable has been sprayed (or impregnated) with a tasty version of  WD-40, for it has that frictionless feel on the tongue. But for all that, it's a pleasant taste, and it goes very well with an acid-enhanced fish dish — in our case, roast cod bestrewn with zest of lime. The cod, by the way, came from Thyme and Tides in Stockbridge, Hampshire. This is an addition to what Google recently called Britain's best High Street, and it amply complements the carnivores' delights at John Robinson, Lillie's bakery (which is a bakery as well as the other classifications the web knows about), and the other fine shops here.

The little tray of Waitrose sea aster will wilt down to a very small quantity, but fear not, you don't need much of the stuff. A tray is enough for two. The on-package instructions suggest 20g butter is needed to fry it in, but I used 10g and it was excessive. Be careful to drain all the liquor before serving.