Sea beans are not beans at all, but rather small thin succulant plants that grow naturally along the shoreline. They are more commonly used as a garnish than as a major component of a dish.

The most common preparations are steaming or simmering, followed by shocking in ice water to preserve color. At the last minute, the cooked and cooled sea beans can be warmed in a just a bit of olive oil or butter. Too much tends to make them greasy and slimy.

Sea beans are naturally salty from the seawater environment where they grow, so care should be taken in adding additional salt to dishes containing them.

A slender edible plant with teeny pointy leaves that grows along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of the United States as well as Britain and NW Europe


Other names: Sea Beans, Marsh Samphire, Salicornia, Glasswort, Sea Pickle, Samphire

Physical Description

Sea beans resemble small (1/4 inch or less) green coral, mysterious short stalks of a dark green vegetable, looking like something you might find washed up on the beach, but maybe a bit more edible.

Colors: bright green, dark yellow

Tasting Notes

Flavors: salty
Mouthfeel: Crunchy, Crisp
Food complements: Pork, Sweet potatoes, Chicken
Wine complements: Pinot gris
Beverage complements: Sweet black tea
Substitutes: Peas, Snow peas, Pea shoots, Snap peas

Selecting and Buying

Seasonality: june, july
Peak: june
Choosing: look for a brightness of color with little or no brown edges.
Buying: Widely available at Farmer's Markets

Preparation and Use

Rinse and saute in a little light butter. We suggest an easy mignonette sauce for tempura fried Sea Beans, made from four ingredients: diced shallot, black pepper, Japanese plum vinegar, and a few shredded shiso leaves (or basil if you want). It’s kind of like salt and vinegar chips, without the potatoes.

Cleaning: You can rinse prior to use in preparation of cooking.

Conserving and Storing

You can store in the refrigerator for at most 1 week. Sea Beans may be revived when soaked in ice water for five minutes.



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Barnaby Dorfman's picture

Awesome addition! Would love to see some recipes!

Barnaby Dorfman's picture

Awesome addition! Would love to see some recipes!