Here we go then: the biggest flavour saved until last. Rock samphire is not related to marsh samphire, but is actually a member of the umbellifer family (carrots, etc.) and must have only been named as such in an attempt to categorise plants by their appearance. Even so, there are plenty of differences between the two and its alternative name of ‘sea fennel’ is much more fitting. A coastal plant that is widespread and abundant, you will find rock samphire at the highest parts of the beach. As its name suggests, it does favour cracks and crevices in rocks, but we have found it growing in shingle and even sand dunes. A few people find the flavour too strong, however that generally means that they have eaten too large a quantity and less is definitely more in this instance. Aromatic, bitter and with an overriding taste of carrots, this maritime behemoth can brighten up even the dullest dishes.
We’ve taken the unripe seed pods (in sustainable proportions, obviously) where the flavour is most concentrated, and hot-pickled them in our wild apple cider vinegar with organic root ginger, bay leaves and feral chilli peppers (a lot can be found in the hedgerow of your nearest allotment!) to add a spicy, fiery kick. As mentioned, this is best used in small quantities, so sprinkle carefully wherever you would capers or olives - pizzas, salads, roasts, sauces.
Remember to save that pickling liquor too! It will make a superb dressing once you’ve eaten all of the seeds!