Love them or hate them there is no denying that t traditional mushy peas are an intrinsic part of British food favourite, Fish and Chips or with hot pies. There are many impostors out there using frozen and even fresh peas; none comes even close to the real thing.
And just what is that real thing?
Real traditional mushy peas are made using dried marrowfat peas that require and overnight soaking, and a long slow cooking. The result. Exactly as the name implies, mushed-up peas. Bicarbonate of soda is added to the peas while cooking and it this which causes the peas to explode and create the required mush. For some, it is this texture which is disliked, but fans will tell you, the soft, melting texture of the peas is lovely when eaten with freshly cooked hot chips, or a pie fresh from the oven. And if you are eating your mushy peas with a pie, then try a drizzle of mint sauce on top, delicious.
- 225g (8oz) dried marrowfat peas (available in all British supermarkets)
- 2 tablespoon bicarbonate of soda
- Salt and pepper
- Sugar to taste
- Place the peas in a large bowl or stock pot, the peas will swell and so need plenty of room to expand. Add the bicarbonate and cover with 300ml / ½ pint boiling water and stir to make sure the bicarbonate has dissolved. Add the peas and leave to soak overnight, or for a minimum of 12 hours.
- Drain the peas in a colander, then place in a large saucepan, cover again with cold water and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for approx 30 mins or until the peas have softened and turned mushy.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve hot with fish and chips or a tasty meat pie.
Notes on Mushy Peas:
It is also the bicarb used in the cooking that gives the peas a bad name, causing an undue amount of wind in some people and can create a slightly bitter taste when overused. To combat this, sugar is added making them over sweet. However, get all of these ingredients in the correct balance, and you will discover, mushy peas are delicious and I for one, would never think about eating fish and chips without them.
Cooked mushy peas keep well for a few days in a refrigerator and also freeze well, so make a large batch and freeze in portion sizes.
Do not confuse mushy peas with pea puree as a Pea Purée recipe is made with fresh or frozen garden peas and fresh mint leaves ( a lovely combination). The peas are cooked quickly and then mashed unlike mushy peas, which as you can see in the recipe above, the peas are long slow cooked.
Pea Purée is a delicious side dish to serve with almost all meat and fish dishes (not fish and chips though, it simply does not work in the same way as mushy) and always lovely with oily fish such as the Smoked Mackerel Fishcakes.