Samphire, or sea asparagus, is the salty marshland grass and not actually seaweed as some may think. It belongs to the very salty club together with capers, anchovies and Parmesan but it loses most of the saltiness when lightly cooked. It is traditionally served with fish but I completely don’t see why fish should claim exclusivity: it will complement chicken or lamb just as well.
It’s perfectly edible raw, as most vegetables, once you get rid of the excessive saltiness. The best way is to bung the samphire in a large bowl of water and soak it overnight. If you have only a couple of hours to spare, change the water as often as you can. Try a stem for taste – you’ll easily know when it’s ready or to your liking.
The salad is supposed to be served warm but don’t fret too much on a summer day – and summer is of course when samphire is at its best – the fish won’t get cold that easily and room temperature is perfectly tolerable. That’s why it makes a super good starter for a summer dinner party – easy to assemble ahead, just drizzle the earlier mixed dressing over the plates at the last minute; and you sure plan and shop for a party in advance enough for the samphire to soak.
It is not strictly necessary to pick the flaked fish off the skin but as boiled (poached!) skin is unappetising and the flesh will flake very easily, it’s not too much hassle. Try poaching the fillets skinned, by all means, only risking they might disintegrate into a fish soup too early.