Common name: Sea Asparagus, Pickleweed, and Glasswort.
Scientific name: Salicornia virginica
Sea Asparagus (Salicornia virginica) is a vivid green bean. As a green bean it is a dicot and a perennial herb. The bean itself can reach up to 4 inches to a foot in height. It is part of the Chenopodiaceae family and has little braches coming off its stem.
S. virginica is found in estuaries. An estuary is where salt water and fresh water meet; it’s where the opening of a river is mixing with the tide from the sea. It grows along the coast of B.C and other coastal areas around the world.
Sea Asparagus is used around the world but is most commonly used in Europe. It can be eaten fresh or it can be pickled. Sea Asparagus has a salty taste; to tone down the saltiness you can soak it in cold water for a couple of hours. It is mostly used in salads or placed on seafood dishes to replace other vegetables. There are many ways you can prepare Sea Asparagus and there are different recipes to meet your culinary needs.
Sea Asparagus is used in a couple different ways. One way is for culinary use, in restaurants or in your home as substitute for vegetables. Some people use it as medicine to help arthritis and pain. Also the ashes of the plant would be used for soap and glassmaking making which is how it received one of its common names “Glasswort”.
You can buy Sea Asparagus fresh or already pickled. This is a simple and most commonly used recipe that includes fresh Sea Asparagus. What you will need is:
- 1/2 pound fresh sea asparagus
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 ounces butter
- First you clean and soak the asparagus for 1 hour in cold water. Then you drain and steam for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Rinse the Sea Asparagus in cold water and drain
- Sauté the shallot in butter for 5 minutes on very low heat; make sure it doesn’t burn.
- Add asparagus to pan and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn mixture out of the pan and sprinkle with lemon juice.
Photos courtesy of Westcoast Seaweed Inc.