Turkish Steamed Samphire With Olive Oil and Garlic

High angle view of a tray of samphire
Mint Images / Getty Images
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 4 servings

Samphire (Salicornia europaea) is a type of salt marsh grass native throughout Europe, North America, and South Asia. For centuries, its juicy stalks have been sought out for their digestive soothing properties and high nutritional value.

Doesn't sound familiar? You may know samphire as glasswort, seagrass, or pickleweed. In Turkish, this tasty plant is known as Deniz börülcesi' (den-EEZ' bore-UHL'-jay-see).

Turkish cooks and diners alike await the arrival of fresh samphire each year. Samphire is best from May through October when it is plump and tender.

In Turkey, samphire is steamed and eaten as a meze, or starter, and served most often as a prelude to fish and seafood meals.

Samphire is known in much of the world as a substitute for asparagus. Once it's steamed and removed from its hard inner stalks, the taste, color, and texture of the cooked flesh actually resemble asparagus.

Samphire is a wellness food. It's low in calories, rich in trace minerals that are important for good health and it contains no saturated fat or cholesterol. Like many other Turkish regional dishes and 'meze,' this starter is good for vegetarians and vegans, too.

If you can pick or get fresh samphire in your area, try this easy recipe with only a few ingredients and treat your family, guests or just yourself with something different, healthy and delicious.


  • 1 large bunch fresh samphire (about 2.5 pounds)

  • 1/3 cup olive oil

  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 1/2 lemon, juiced

  • Lemon wedges, for garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Bring a large saucepan of water to a rolling boil.

  3. Once water is boiling, add samphire, stalks and all. Let boil for 10 to 15 minutes.

  4. When flesh turns bright green and seems tender, strain out cooked samphire and plunge into cold water to prevent from overcooking. Drain.

  5. Once cooked samphire is cool enough to handle, you should be able to pull flesh off each hard stalk easily. It should come off in long, hollow tubes. Discard stalks as you go along.

  6. Place cooked samphire in a large bowl. Using fingers, gently toss together with with olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice.

  7. Serve immediately garnished with lemon wedges for squeezing. Enjoy.


  • This salad is delicious when served fresh, but like most Turkish vegetable dishes prepared with olive oil, your samphire will also store well for a few hours or even days in the fridge as the oil helps to keep it fresh.