A non-traditional take on the classic accompaniment for fish ‘n chips
Mushy peas are best pals with fish ‘n chips. But they also make a great sidekick for grilled or roasted meats, fowl, or other seafood.
Our recipe uses frozen peas (instead of dried), then adds mint and lemon. This all adds a bit of freshness and zip – and makes for quicker preparation.
So this dish is perfect for a weeknight meal. And good enough for company.
Recipe: Mushy Peas with Mint and Lemon
Mushy Peas traditionally are made from dried marrowfat peas (mature dried peas), which require soaking overnight before using. You can find marrowfat peas in the US, but they’re not always readily available.
So we substitute frozen peas (but include a recipe for marrowfat peas in the Notes). We’re not alone in preferring frozen peas: We’ve seen many recipes published by British cooks (like Gordan Ramsay and Jamie Oliver) that specify frozen peas. They make for a quicker dish – and a really good one.
This recipe takes about 15 to 20 minutes from start to finish.
The recipe serves 4. Leftovers keep for a few days if refrigerated in an airtight container.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 to 2 tablespoons minced shallots (to taste)
- a few pinches of salt (to taste; see Notes)
- 10- to 12-ounce package of frozen peas (thawed or not)
- ¼ cup water
- 2 to 3 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (to taste)
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint, minced
- lemon twist or wedge for garnish (optional; could also use a mint sprig)
- Add the butter to a 2-quart saucepan and place it over medium stovetop heat. When the butter is melted, add the minced shallots and salt. Sauté for 1 minute.
- Add the peas, stir to coat them with butter, then add the water. Bring to a simmer and cook until the peas are still slightly firm (5 minutes or so; if you cover the pan, they’ll cook a bit quicker).
- Mush the peas with an immersion blender (how long to blend is up to you; it’s traditional to go for a smooth paste, but we prefer more texture). If you don’t have an immersion blender, just use a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon.
- Add the lemon juice, then stir to incorporate. Add the mint and stir again. Taste and add seasoning if necessary.
- Serve, garnishing with a lemon twist or mint sprig if you wish.
- Want a richer dish? Add an extra tablespoon or two of butter right before serving.
- We typically season this dish minimally while cooking, then add more salt and pepper at table if necessary.
- Lemon juice brightens the flavor of this dish. And (to our palates at least) it reduces the need for additional salt.
- Speaking of salt: We use kosher salt for cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the crystals are larger and more irregular, so they pack a measure less tightly). If using table salt, start with about half the amount we suggest. But always season to your taste, not ours.
- Mint goes extremely well with peas. And it’s easy to grow. We have a big patch in our garden that comes back year after year – and keeps spreading. (So we have it planted in a spot where it can spread without becoming a nuisance.)
- Want a substitute for mint? Fresh tarragon would be interesting (use maybe a tablespoon, minced).
- Shallots aren’t traditional in this dish, but we like their flavor. You could substitute scallions or regular onion if you prefer. Purple onion would look great, and its mild flavor would do well in this dish.
- BTW, mint and lemon aren’t traditional either. But they often appear in contemporary recipes for Mushy Peas.
- Frozen peas don’t have quite the same flavor as the traditional marrowfat peas. The texture is a bit different, too – marrowfat peas produce a creamier dish (that’s because they’re very mature, and very starchy; the starch helps produce a creamy texture when cooked and mashed).
- So if you want to make traditional mushy peas: Place 8 ounces of dried marrowfat peas in a heatproof container. Add 2 tablespoons of baking soda, plus 2 cups of boiling water, and stir to combine (the baking soda needs to dissolve). Let the peas soak overnight – at least 12 hours. Then drain the peas into a colander and rinse them. Pour the peas into a cooking pot and add enough cold water to cover them (about 2 cups). Bring the peas to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes, until the peas are soft and mushy. Add salt and pepper to taste (some people also like to add sugar). Mash the cooked peas with an immersion blender or the back of a wooden spoon (although they’ll already be pretty much a purée at this point). Add some lemon juice or malt vinegar before serving, if you wish.
- Mushy Peas make a great side dish, but they also work well as the base for a starter. We like to layer a dollop of mushy peas on a dish, then place a sautéed or grilled sea scallop (or two) on top. Sometimes we use cooked shrimp. We serve the dish with a lemon wedge.
“Peas and love!” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Nothing fishy about this dish.”
“Indeed,” I said. “Peas don’t get as mush love as they should.”
“Correct,” said Mrs K R. “Give peas a chance.”
Now I’m feeling all mushy.
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I love mint with peas, it is such a great combination. This looks great and now I'm ready for some fish and chips.
Hi Pat and Dahn, mint and peas are such a terrific pairing! We love it. :-) Thanks for the comment.
So we're both cooking peas this week—nice! This sounds delicious, John, and that first photo is beautiful. One question—1/4 tablespoon of water sounds pretty scant—should it maybe be 1/4 cup? Again, thanks for another great recipe!
Hi Terry, yeah, I chuckled when I saw your post this morning. And thanks for the heads up about the water measurement -- that is indeed an error. Will correct immediately. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I've always wanted to try these! They look tasty.
Hi Pam, they are. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I'm not usually a big fan of peas but I bet they would be good using this recipe! :)
Hi Martha, they are. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I totally feel like this could get me to eat peas!!
It is a simple and very tasty side dish, and that fish and chips looks super tempting too, John.
Hi Ashley, bet it could! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Angie, we do like simple (but tasty!) dishes. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love peas as is and never thought of mashing them. Great idea!
Hi Laura, this is such a nice way to serve them. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I've never heard of marrowfat peas nor mushy peas, especially as a side for fish & chips. This is a new one for me. Fresh mint and lemon is always a great seasoning with peas, so I can certainly imagine how good these peas are. What a great new recipe!
I just served mushy peas last Saturday! I had a father's day dinner for friends, because I'll miss it visiting my mother next month. It was an excuse to make some man food, like a prime rib roast, and I included mushy peas mostly for my husband! Mine dind't have lemon. Your recipe sounds wonderful!
Hi MJ, you'll find mushy peas in almost every fish 'n chips shop in Britain (much less common here). They're good -- both the traditional version, and this one. :-) Thanks for the comment .
Hi Mimi, we don't serve mushy peas often, but always enjoy them. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Learnt a new term 'marrowfat peas' ! Interesting to look up ! No idea why I love every kind of pea pod in stirfries and salads and reach for the real McCoy last :) ! Being Australian mushy peas naturally seem to be part of the heritage . . . actually the scallop plus the latter suddenly seem quite a fun idea to try . . .
Hi Eha, scallops with mushy peas is a nice combo. :-) Thanks for the comment.
i saw an interesting thing about peas the other day on tv. they compared fresh with frozen and with tinned peas. apparently frozen are sweeter because the sugars haven't turned to starch yet, but fresh is a bit more textured. tinned - mm well ... Mushy peas with meat pie - an aussie classic.
I haven't heard of this dish before, but I'd love to try it. It sounds really good. I think the purple onion idea is a great one!
Hi Sherry, mushy peas are GREAT with meat pies! And that's interesting about tinned peas. Not going to use them, though. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Jeff, this is really worth trying. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love peas and this is a new one for me! It looks and sounds delicious! And easy too! Thanks for the recipe!
Hi Pam, it's really easy! And tasty. :-) Thanks for the comment.
We tend to push peas aside as a 'second class citizen.' This recipe elevates the poor pea to a royal status!
Hi Fran, it is a royally good recipe. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I've never made them with frozen peas, looks delicious. We don't eat them with fish and chips here in Australia, but always with an Aussie meat pie and Worcestershire sauce or tomato sauce. The cultural differences are fascinating aren't they?
For me personally, the taste of this food made from peas is unique ... because I have never tasted the taste combined with mint.
I feel obliged to taste its delicacy.
Such a lovely a fresh combination (great idea to use tarragon - I need to try it!) Also, as you mentioned so many ways to use it, but I clearly see this as a topping for my brushetta, perhaps with a slice of prosciutto :)
Hi Pauline, cultural differences really are fascinating. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi HS, hope you enjoy! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Ben, these are GREAT on bruschetta -- make a nice appetizer. Thanks for the comment.
This looks amazing!!! I’ll be making it soon for sure. Peas, mint and lemon! Sold :)
Hi Balvinder, we love the pea and mint combo. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Although I am not familiar with this type of recipe, I love peas and mint. It looks really good and I'll have to give it a try.
Hi Judee, this dish is probably best known in Britain and Australia, although it's certainly found in the US, too. It's definitely worth a try! Thanks for the comment.
I remember hearing about mushy peas but never did quite figure out what they were. Until now! Sounds like they’re right up my alley and very seasonal, too. May give it a go this weekend. Sounds like a nice side for a cookout, too.
Hi Frank, this is a great side for a cookout! :-) Thanks for the comment.
I'm thinking I'd want to dip my fries in this delicious pea mash! Not only is good as a side dish but over a crostini, on flatbread and the list goes on and on. Great idea John!
Hi Bobbi, we really like this on some sort of flatbread as a starter. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Happy Saturday, John! Do you know that, as many times as I’ve had fish and chips in England, I’ve never seen mushy peas! I like your twist on the recipe and think it would be a fun addition to many plates. Thanks for the recipe and have a great weekend!
Hi David, I'm surprised! We always saw them. Although we had fish n' chips only a few times in England -- hard to resist those Indian restaurants. :-) Hope you have a terrific weekend too, and thanks for the comment.
I admit that I most often fall back on frozen peas when cooking. But when my farm box delivery recently included fresh peas, I got to work shucking and was richly rewarded with the sweetest peas ever. I bet they would be dynamite done your way.
Hi Carolyn, fresh peas would be great in this! We always specify frozen peas for recipes because the season for local peas (and fresh peas are best when local, IMO) is so short. Thanks for the comment.
Frozen peas are a staple in our kitchen. This is a yummy way to shake up our side dish options!
Hi Liz, always good to shake things up! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Peas and mint are great together with a hint of lemon. Looks like a great side dish.
Hi Holly, we love that combo of flavors! :-) Thanks for the comment.
They do look so tasty and vibrant
Hi Raymund, they are, they are. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I've often heard of mushy peas and honestly I saw in my minds eye those awful canned peas of an army green color, already bad and sort of mushy, simply taken to the next level.
These? These I could do! Frozen peas are a staple in my freezer; when all else fails, and usually it's a timely trip to the grocer, there are always peas!
Hi Barb, mushy peas made from dried peas aren't as brightly colored as this -- another reason to use frozen! :-) Thanks for the comment.
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