FoodDiscover sea beans: The salty superfood enhancing dishes worldwide

Discover sea beans: The salty superfood enhancing dishes worldwide

The branches of goldenrod resemble the horsetail growing in the forests.
The branches of goldenrod resemble the horsetail growing in the forests.
Images source: © Adobe Stock | Quyen Tat

8:06 PM EDT, May 5, 2024

We're amid asparagus season, and soon, green beans will grace our tables. However, a lesser-known plant is often compared to these two vegetables: sea beans, also known as sea asparagus or sea pickle. Let's dive into what makes salicornia interesting.

Salicornia features succulent, crunchy, dark green shoots with a distinct salty flavor. It's a delicacy in Anglo-Saxon and French cuisines. Though not widely popular in Poland, salicornia can be purchased from online stores and quality delicatessens, either fresh or pickled.

A vital role

A lover of saltwater, salicornia thrives in environments that would challenge other plants. It's found in coastal marshes and beaches across the globe, from northern France and Great Britain to the United States and Canada. In Poland, along the Baltic Sea coast, the protected salicornia herbacea can be found. This plant plays a crucial role in its habitat, helping to stabilize and oxygenate the soil in salty, flood-prone areas, thus paving the way for future vegetation. Salicornia sold in stores usually comes from farms.

Perfect with fish

Thanks to its salty, marine flavor, salicornia is a perfect companion to fish dishes. It beautifully complements cod or salmon, as well as seafood like shrimp, and can even enhance fish soups. Salicornia should be added towards the end of the cooking process to preserve its flavor. It also makes a tasty addition to pasta, risotto, and salads. For a simple preparation, sauté it in butter with garlic, pepper, and lemon juice, similarly to how one might cook young spring vegetables.

Nutritionally rich

Beyond its intriguing taste, salicornia is packed with nutritional benefits. It's best consumed fresh and can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks. Over time, it may lose its crispness and distinctive salty-marine scent. Salicornia is high in iodine, potassium, and calcium and, despite its salty flavor, it has a low sodium content, making it heart-friendly.

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