Nutrient-rich sea succulents add crispness and crunch and are best paired with seafood. Photo: Edwina Pickles
What are they?
Examples are coastal saltwater plants such as crisp and crunchy karkalla (Carpobrotus rossii) and the softer, fern-like sea blite or sea spray (Suaeda australis). Their juicy, green stems have a natural salty tang, brilliant with eggs, fish and seafood.
Where are they?
Succulents have a natural salty tang that can bring a dish to life. Photo: Edwina Pickles
At the freshly opened No.8 by John Lawson at Crown Melbourne, pan-fried baby snapper comes with crushed kipfler potatoes, smoked egg yolk and karkalla, also known as beach bananas or pigface.
"They're beautiful and delicate, and add a fresh crispness to the plate," Lawson says. "I use them almost as a salt substitute."
In Sydney, Billy Kwong's pioneering Kylie Kwong is evangelical about sea succulents, especially karkalla, which she sources from South Australia's Outback Pride.
"It's an incredibly attractive, wholesome-looking, bright green plant with a wonderful natural crunch," she says.
"It reminds me of the refreshing quality of eating watermelon with its super-high water content, a great ingredient for these warmer months."
She suggests stir-frying it in a hot wok with a splash of peanut oil, ginger, garlic, and a dash of tamari or soy, or tossing it into Asian or Western-style soups at the last minute.
Why do I care?
They're local, native, rich in vitamins and minerals and at their best in summer.
Can I do it at home?
Yes. Sea succulents retail for about $7 for a 100 gram punnet; see stockists below.
No.8 by John Lawson Riverside at Crown, Melbourne, (03) 9292 5777
Billy Kwong shop 3, 355 Crown Street, Surry Hills (02) 9332 3300
WholeFoods House Organic Grocery Store 9 Danks Street, Waterloo (02) 9319 4459 and 112 Queen Street, Woollahra (02) 9363 9879
Crab salad with sea blite and ginger
This simple salad is delicately sweet and lightly vinegared in the Japanese style.
1 tbsp Japanese pickled ginger
100g sea blite (or karkalla)
½ lebanese cucumber, finely sliced
100g fresh crab meat, cooked and picked
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
1 tbsp mirin (Japanese rice wine)
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp castor sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
1. Finely slice the pickled ginger into strips.
2. Pour boiling water over the sea blite, swish them around in it for 20 seconds, then drain and cool them quickly under cold running water.
3. To make the dressing, whisk the mirin, vinegar, sugar and sesame oil together in a bowl.
4. Add the cucumber and sea blite, tossing well.
5. Arrange the cucumber on four small plates and top with the crab. Scatter with sea blite, pickled ginger and sesame seeds, drizzle with remaining dressing and serve.
Serves 4 as entree