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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