lies one that gathers samphire, dreadful trade!”
Hundreds of years ago samphire gatherers risked their lives to pick strands of the rarer rock samphire. At times, children were tied with rope and dangled over the cliff edge. This is the “dreadful trade” that Shakespeare refers to in King Lear. On Monday morning, with a day off work, I went to find marsh samphire. I wasn't hanging from the edge of a cliff but the route was almost as perilous. And that is because on Monday morning the pavements of West London are covered in unwanted furniture. In the half mile walk between home and the fishmongers I had to climb round enough furniture and fittings to furnish a small mansion. Two velour sofas, three dining chairs, a kitchen table, four rolled up carpets, a couple of standard lamps and a bedside table later I arrived at the fishmongers and bought my samphire which came from Mexico. Back through the forest of dumped furniture, which was now decorated by dog dirt, I arrived home.
I made a crab and samphire tart. Samphire is slightly salty and works well with the crab. Half way through I panicked and worried whether it might need some other flavour. So I called David from Book the Cook who lives up in South Shields. He was about to face 200 school children to teach them about the pleasures of cooking good food. "You could add some dill or chervil but really you don't want to overpower the crab and samphire." So encouraged by David, I kept it simple. Alex's verdict was " This tastes just like Cornwall" and Freddie gave it 10 out of 10.
Crab and Samphire Tart
170g tin of white crab meat ( drained weight 120g)
4 eggs, whisked
Salt and pepper
100 ml creme fraiche
A small handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
375 g of ready made short crust pastry
100g of samphire, rinsed well
Roll out the pastry to a circle to fit a round greased quiche tin. Blind bake the pastry in a preheated oven for about 10 minutes at 180C. Boil a pan of water and add the samphire for about a minute. Drain. Whisk the eggs, add the creme fraiche, parsley, drained white crab meat and seasoon with salt and pepper. Stir in the drained and cooled samphire. Take out the blind-baked pastry case and pour in the egg, samphire and crab mixture. Put back in the oven and bake for 35 minutes until the top is lightly golden. Serve warm or cold