Mushy peas are a true British side dish made from dried marrowfat peas then cooked on the stovetop until, well, they get mushy.
What are marrowfat peas? They’re not very well known in the U.S. They are green, mature peas that have been allowed to try naturally in the field and it's their starch content that makes for great mushy peas. They are also used for wasabi peas, so you may have eaten them and not even know it.
You can make this dish with fresh peas but the texture is not the same so if you can find dried green peas they will get the dish tasting and being closer to the real thing.
Normally the words mushy and peas (or any dish) don't usually go together because who wants to eat mushy peas? Most of us eat peas that are juicy and plump but this is a traditional British dish where you want the peas mushy and they taste so good (ask any Brit they will tell you).
In typical British fashion, different regions of the country have their own take on them. Sometimes served on their own as a snack, with mint sauce. In Scotland they like them soupy with vinegar served in a bowl.
In the North (where I am from) they are usually seen accompanying fish and chips or a savory meat pie. Last week I made minced beef and onion pies, a classic British savory favorite made with ground beef, onions and lots of delicious flavors nestled in a flaky pastry (my go-to comforting meal).
Because the peas are dried they have to soaked in boiling water overnight. Not a lot of work involved, just time. The peas soak in a nice hot tub with baking soda while you get your beauty rest and they are ready for cooking. The next day, they get simmered in salted water for about 20 minutes and you have perfect mushy peas. They’re good for you too. Whoever said British food is not healthy?
- 9 ounces dried green peas
- 2 tablespoons baking soda
- pinch of salt
- To a heatproof bowl, add the peas and baking soda and cover with boiling water and soak for 12 hours.
- After 12 hours drain and rinse the peas.
- Add the peas to a saucepan and fill with water until they are just covered along with a small pinch of salt (salt can be adjusted after cooking).
- Bring to a simmer; do not boil, for 20 minutes stirring from time to time until mushy.
- Depending how soupy or dry you like them, cook longer for dryer, add water for soupier peas.