Today it was a gloomy day here in Delft and I decided to cook myself a little something special to cheer me up. I bought the portobello mushrooms and samphire two days ago and both these ingredients are at their best when fresh.
Samphire is imported in the Netherlands usually from Mexico. It is naturally salty, as it grows on the rocks, next to the sea. It is thick and crunchy and Wikipedia has a nice story about where its name came from:
“Originally “sampiere”, a corruption of the French “Saint Pierre” (Saint Peter), Samphire was named for the patron saint of fishermen because all of the original plants with its name grow in rocky salt-sprayed regions along the sea coast of northern Europe or in its coastal marsh areas.”
Samphire can be pickled, eaten raw or lightly sauteed or steamed and seasoned with lemon and olive oil. It contains iodine and it is rich in vitamins C, D and A. This is why -according to Mandy Wilks of helium.com- sailors used to take pickled samphire on board with them in long journeys, in order to avoid scurvy.
Portobello mushrooms are rich in selenium, copper, phosphorus and potassium. They also contain L-ergothioneine, which is a powerful antioxidant, as Bridget Coila of livestrong.com mentions. And she goes on to note that portobello mushrooms are a great food to get your antioxidants from, because most of them stay intact even during cooking.
And that is exactly what I did. I cooked them. Slowly and lovingly, in olive oil and lemon.
I put just enough olive oil to cover the pan and then added the juice of one lemon, whole peppercorns and a bit of nutmeg. I put the mushrooms in the pan and let them simmer for about 10 minutes from each side on low heat. You will need to keep an eye on them and add just a tiny bit of water, when the liquids evaporate. Do not add a lot of water, because all the taste will be lost in it. I do not know the scientific explanation on that, but please take my word for it.
When the mushrooms were soft to my liking, I put them on a plate with most of the leftover liquid (about 4 tablespoons) and I left 2 tablespoons in the pan, to quickly saute the samphire. I only left it in the pan for 1 minute or so. It needs to become a vibrant green, just a tone more vibrant than when it is raw. If you overcook it it will become a mushy dark green and it will lose its crisp.
I added a bit of salt and enjoyed my meal with a slice of wholegrain artisan bread.
Try it out. It’s as simple as it gets.