What are these little green sprigs?  Sea Beans?  A Sea Bean is the salty, succulent plant called Salicornia that is also sometimes called glasswort, pickleweed, and marsh samphire (I grew up calling Carpobrotus edulis "Ice Plant" pickleweed, but then again, my parents are no Botanists.)  True Sea Beans appear during the summer at farmer's markets and specialty food shops for a few weeks and they only last a few days once picked, so eat them as soon as you buy them.

Sea beans have great crunch that bursts a blast of brine when chewed.  They taste just like a day at the beach - really, their resemblance to the sea is uncanny.  Because they are so salty, adding salt to season them may ruin them and soy-based sauces are overkill.

Sea beans had their 15 minutes of fame during the finale of Top Chef Season 2 when Sam made Opakapaka Poke with Sea Beans and then later Marcel made Hearts of Palm & Maitake Mushrooms with Kaffir Lime Sauce & Sea Beans.  Hitherto, I had never heard of them.

Doing a little digging online, I found recipes on Epicurious for Black Cod, Sea Beans, and Oysters, at Geofooding for Seared Sesame Tuna with sauteed Sea Beans and Matsutake Mushrooms and Steamed Halibut, Roasted Porcini Mushrooms, Pickled Sea Beans, and Lemongrass Sauce from Wrightfood. 

I found my sea beans at the farmer's market at the fungus booth.  I had never worked with them before so I was intrigued and inspired, and I bought a little box.  They told me that they can be eaten raw in a salad, blanched, or pan-fried.  I picked op a little box of shitake mushrooms too and thought I'd sauté them together.

In a hot pan, I added a little olive oil and about a tablespoon of butter, then I added the Shitake mushrooms, stems removed.  Once the mushrooms gained a little color (about 5 minutes) I added the sea beans and some black pepper, sautéeing them together for about another minute or two.  Served them hot with a garnish of some chopped parsley.  I would squirt some lemon or lime juice on top next time to add a little acidity. 



Authordavid koch