Often found in fishmongers, having been imported to be sold at extortionate prices, Marsh Samphire is usually the reserve of top restaurants. It is a shame, therefore, that most only get to try a tiny strand or two as a garnish for something fishy. Actually, this abundantly common wild ingredient is best enjoyed as a succulent vegetable and enjoyed in big mouthfuls. Often cited as ‘asparagus of the sea’, it has a salty crunch that bursts in the mouth when eaten either raw or lightly cooked - we recommend steaming or lightly braised in unsalted butter.
No prizes for guessing where Marsh Samphire grows! You will find it all over mudflats and estuaries where coastal conditions meet flat grassland. Wellies and scissors are a must - it is extremely important to not uproot the plant, but to take the top couple of inches before the stem gets tough and fibrous.
Swish your way through any long undergrowth and you will inadvertently end up foraging for Cleavers with your socks and trouser legs. Although probably best known for this fun characteristic, it is actually incredibly good for you - with reports of it being particularly great for the lymphatic system - and it has a wonderful cucumber-y flavour that means it is on the 'refreshing' end of the spectrum.
Although this can be swigged directly from the bottle for the true wild factor, we recommend using a fine mesh, muslin or sieve to strain out all the bits (it is the small barbs on the plant that give it its 'sticky' quality, after all). We are yet to work out a perfect cocktail blend for this, so if you think you have worked out a decent aperitif incorporating this health-boosting tonic, we would love to hear from you!
Regular coriander polarizes curry lovers into those that love it and those that hate it. This is hard-wired, like the ability to roll your tongue or what hand you write with, so it may be of some intrigue to coriander-deniers that this amazing coastal plant does indeed taste like the oriental herb, but without the reported 'soapy' flavour that some get. Better yet, this relatively camouflaged plant (it looks very much like grass if you aren't familiar with it) is abundant along our coastlines and salt marshes.
Once you've had your mind blown after a little nibble of it straight from the packet, Sea Coriander should be used exclusively either raw or cooked at a high heat - there is research to suggest that dehydrating or only gently heating can create compounds that can be toxic. Fortunately, exposure to heat of any kind really diminishes the flavour altogether, so it is much better to eat it raw. Let's keep it simple then: finely chop and sprinkle over a curry or atop an oriental canape, or perhaps in an oily salad alongside some white fish.
There’s no point denying it, you may have to get your head around eating seaweeds. In western cuisines they often get overlooked as ingredients, but we can almost guarantee you will have eaten them in some form or other - they are often used as thickening agents or flavourings in the more ‘instant’ food you get made in factories and may only have to add water to. Yum. Not to mention their use in sushi, where they are a vital part of the dish, both for structure and flavour. Here at Forage Box, we absolutely love using native seaweeds in all our cooking. Nearly all seaweed you find on UK shores is edible, and they are all full of nutrients that are sometimes tricky to come by in other food. Aside from the many health benefits of eating seaweed, they are pretty much all delicious and have a range of flavours that can be used in so many savoury meals.
This time out we have kombu. It’s a sort of kelp, which hangs around at the very lowest tide points - just have a look at the photo to see it lurking just out of reach. Aside from being incredibly good for you, it has a lovely umami-salty flavour that suits being included in a stock or soup. Next time you reach for a bay leaf, try adding a similar sized piece of dried oarweed to add a different dimension to your meal. If you take the time to powder it or break it into smaller pieces, it adds a rich quality to rice and other grains, and fits right in crumbled into a side dish of sauteed vegetables.
There is so much to be said for including seaweeds in your daily diet, that we could fill an entire website with enthusiasm. We will resist that temptation and instead encourage you to start your journey into this criminally overlooked food source.
Flowers are often the precursor to something tastier in the form of seeds, fruit or nuts. This doesn't stop us enjoying their beauty, however, and the flavour of the resultant fruit can be a million miles from what the petals offer us and therefore well worth a nibble. At this time of year, flowers are all around us in many forms so we have put together this seasonal mix of edible species to show off some foraged floral flavours.
Our seasonal mixes can vary, especially with ever-changing weather, however you can expect a decent selection along the lines of the following: Ox Eye Daisy, Rose, Tufted Vetch, Himilayan Balsam, Rosebay Willowherb, Common Daisy, Dandelion... All of these are decent garnishes, and their striking colours will enhance any dish, but each have their own unique flavour so can be paired with anything from falafel to crème brûlée.