We have just had terrific week teaching on the south lakes peninsula in Cumbria. On the journey over I was thinking about how to use some of the fantastic wild produce available to us at this time of year as well as one of my favourite things, potted Morecambe bay shrimps. I thought that it would be a good bet that we would find samphire on the salt marsh and you can guarantee to find somebody potting shrimps in Flookburgh so I started to think of possibilities for these two great ingredients.
The next evening, after a great afternoon on the salt marsh looking at a host of beautifully crunchy and succulent wild veg and a few hours out on the sands with fisherman Steve Manning, we arrived back at the kitchen with set of ingredients to make any cook happy! As I thought, the newly filled store cupboard did include marsh samphire and potted shrimps so I decided to combine them in a risotto as a starter for dinner.
The result went down very well with our guests so I thought I would share it here.
Potted Morecambe bay shrimp and marsh samphire risotto. Serves 4
- 400g risotto rice
- 1 White onion finely chopped
- 1 clove of Garlic
- 1 glass of White wine
- 1 litre Water (approx.)
- 60g Potted shrimp
- 60g Marsh samphire chopped into rice length pieces.
- Salt and pepper
On a low heat sauté the onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until soft but not coloured. While this is cooking heat the water in a separate pan. Add the rice to the onion and garlic and stir. Once the rice is completely coated with oil, add the white wine and stir until the liquid has almost been absorbed. Now gradually add the hot water a ladle at a time, stirring until each ladleful is absorbed. After about 15 minutes, check the rice is cooked and not chalky. The rice might not need all the water.
Now add the shrimps, the butter from their pots and the samphire and mix very well. You should have a slightly oozing consistency not solid, if it is too thick at a little more water. Have a taste at this point and season with salt and pepper.
Now put the lid on the pan and let the risotto rest for a couple of minutes before serving. You could finish the dish with a drizzle of good olive oil if you wish.
This plant is an annual, growing to a maximum of about 20cm by mid summer and then dying in autumn with the first frosts. It is an unusual plant the stalks are fleshy and are made up of segments. There are no leaves in the usual sense but stalky branches that come out from the main stem, making the plant look almost cactus like. The colour is quite a bright green and with a shiny texture.
When you are collecting samphire always use scissors and snip off the top of the plant as it is easy to uproot the whole plant if you just pull at it.
Here are a few more photographs from our Foraging courses in Flookburgh last week.