If you can't escape
to the beach, let sea beans bring the salty flavors of a day at the ocean to you.
Also known as glasswort or samphire, sea beans -- not to be confused with sea-beans -- can be eaten raw or steamed. Some blanch them to remove some of their extreme salt flavor.
We first discovered sea beans through this New York Times recipe for Orzo Salad (subscription required), a pasta salad of orzo, sea beans, and basil, dressed with garlicy Greek yogurt. Stephen and Sam from Top Chef created seafood and sea bean recipes.
Sea beans grow in salt marshes, beach dunes, and salt flats. They have a strong sea salt flavor, reminding us of seaweed or even oysters. Go light on the salt in the rest of you're dish if you're including sea beans.
Here in New York City, sea beans are currently available at the Manhattan Fruit Exchange in Chelsea Market for $9.99 per pound. Sea beans do not keep well so plan to use them within a day or so after you buy them.