Traditional British Mushy Peas are made from dried marrowfat peas, which are soaked and then cooked until they become soft and “mushy.”
Mushy peas are a classic British side dish, often served with fish and chips. They are made from dried marrowfat peas, which are soaked and then cooked until they become soft and “mushy.”
Marrowfat peas are a specific type of green pea that is known for its large size and starchy texture. These peas are usually dried, and they are commonly used in British cuisine to make this traditional side dish served with fish and chips.
Here are some key characteristics of marrowfat peas:
- Size: Marrowfat peas are larger than regular garden peas, and they have a rounder and plumper shape.
- Starch content: Marrowfat peas have a higher starch content compared to regular peas, which makes them ideal for creating a creamy and mushy texture when cooked.
- Drying process: Marrowfat peas are typically harvested when they are mature but not yet fully dried. They are then dried to preserve them for long-term storage. This drying process contributes to their starchy consistency.
- Culinary use: Marrowfat peas are primarily used to make mushy peas, a popular side dish in British cuisine. Mushy peas are created by rehydrating and cooking the dried marrowfat peas until they become soft and mushy. They are often served with fish and chips or as a side dish with various other meals.
Marrowfat peas can be found in some grocery stores, especially in regions where mushy peas are a common accompaniment. If you’re looking to prepare this type of pea in your recipes, you may need to search for them in specialty stores or online.
Mushy peas have a long history in British cuisine and are considered a classic side dish, particularly in northern England. The origins of mushy peas can be traced back to the 19th century, and the dish has evolved over time. Here’s a brief history of this traditional dish:
- Early History: The concept of this recipe likely developed in the 19th century, where peas were a common and affordable food source for the working-class population in Britain. Dried marrowfat peas were readily available and easy to store for extended periods, making them a practical choice.
- Industrial Revolution: During the Industrial Revolution, the demand for quick, cheap, and filling meals grew as more people worked in factories and needed convenient food options. This dish became a popular choice due to their affordability and ease of preparation.
- Street Food: Mushy peas were often served as street food in British cities, particularly in the north. Vendors would offer them alongside other traditional fast foods, like fish and chips, pies, and sausages.
- Traditional Accompaniment: These peas became a traditional accompaniment to fish and chips, creating a classic combination that remains popular today. The combination of crispy battered fish, hot chips (fries), and a side of mushy peas became a staple in fish and chip shops and pubs.
- Variations: Over time, these peas have seen various regional and personal adaptations. Some people prefer them completely smooth, while others like a chunkier texture. Additionally, flavorings like mint or vinegar might be added to enhance the taste.
- Modern Usage: This recipe continue to be served in British restaurants, pubs, and takeaways. They are also a popular side dish at picnics, barbecues, and other outdoor events.
Today, this traditional dish remain a beloved and iconic dish in British cuisine. They are not only enjoyed with fish and chips but also as a side dish with other classic British meals like meat pies, bangers and mash, or roast dinners. This simple yet comforting side dish has stood the test of time and continues to be cherished by many as part of the UK’s culinary heritage.
- 1 cup dried marrowfat peas *see note
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2-3 cups water
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Start by soaking the dried marrowfat peas. Place them in a large bowl, add the bicarbonate of soda, and cover with plenty of water. Leave them to soak overnight, or for at least 8 hours. The bicarbonate of soda helps soften the peas and speeds up the cooking process.
- After soaking, drain and rinse the peas thoroughly under cold water.
- Transfer the soaked peas to a large saucepan or pot and add enough water to cover them by about an inch. Bring the water to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the peas for about 20-30 minutes. You want them to become very soft and "mushy." You may need to add more water during cooking if it evaporates too quickly. Skim off any foam that forms on the surface of the water.
- Once the peas are soft, remove them from the heat and drain any excess water.
- Use a potato masher or a hand blender to mash the peas to your desired consistency. Some people like them completely smooth, while others prefer a slightly chunky texture.
- Add butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Blend well.
*Marrowfat peas can be found in some grocery stores, especially in regions where mushy peas are a common accompaniment. If you're looking to prepare mushy peas or try this type of pea in your recipes, you may need to search for them in specialty stores or online.