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Authentic British Mushy Peas

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A thoroughly Authentic British Mushy Peas recipe!  The right flavor, the perfect texture, just like you know and love them from your favorite English pub or chippy!

Serve these mushy peas with British Fish and Chips or Bangers and Mash!

mushy peas recipe british english authentic traditional

What are fish & chips without mushy peas??  They are inseparable!   

What Are Mushy Peas?

Mushy peas is a quintessential British dish of marrowfat peas that are simmered until they fall apart, literally into a mush.  They are a traditional accompaniment to British fish and chips.  Fried fish & chips as a unified meal is thought to have originated in northern England just outside of Manchester in the mid-1800’s.  To this day the Northerners remain proud of their fish & chip legacy.  And they’re also quite insistent that fish & chips be served with mushy peas, the traditional side for generations.  While most areas throughout Britain offer mushy peas with fish & chips, you could say that in northern England it’s practically sacrilege not to.

When visiting Britain, even Michael Jackson insisted on mushy peas with his fish & chips.  So there you have it.  Inseparable.

Besides being the fish-and-chip-and-mushy-peas champion, Northern England is home to breathtaking landscapes, stunning historic cities and beautiful villages.  And I can’t talk about English food without talking about the country, so let’s take a brief tour.

A Brief Tour of a Beautiful Northern English City

One of my many favorite places in northern England is the city of Chester, which borders the northeast part of Wales.  I have ancestors from all over Great Britain including numerous parts of England, Scotland and Wales.  But my most recent ancestors, my great grandparents on my father’s side, come from Wales on one side of the family and from Cheshire, England (home of Chester) on the other.

Chester was originally founded as a Roman fort in 79 AD and later became a major civilian settlement.  It was 20% larger than any other fortress built at the time and historians speculate that Chester, not London, was meant to become the Roman capital in Britain.  A particularly powerful fortress, Chester was one of the last cities in England to fall to the Normans.

Chester remains one of the best preserved walled cities in all of Britain and features a number of medieval buildings.  During the years I lived in England, Chester was one of my favorite cities to visit.  It’s a remarkable and unique city with a gorgeous town center and stunning cathedral.

chester england

On a side note, Chester also used to have the world’s best fudge shop and you could sample the most wonderful, creative flavors of fudge while watching the fudge makers at work.  We were there this past May and it was gone!  Replaced by some good-but-not-nearly-as-good fudge chain store :(

I love Chester’s town center.  Just look at those gorgeous buildings!  And Chester even still has an official Town Crier – our kids are posing with him below.

chester england

The Chester cathedral is stunning.  The building of it began around 1093 AD and the process continued over several centuries with modifications and additions made over time.  As a result its construction incorporates every major style of English medieval architecture.  The cathedral is still in use for worship services and aside from being a major tourist attraction it also hosts concerts and exhibitions.

chester england

And circling back to our original topic of FOOD, should you ever order fish & chips at a chippy in Chester (that’s a tongue-twister!), you can be sure they’ll have mushy peas!

So let’s talk about how to make authentic mushy peas.  Most recipes you’ll find online improvise using fresh English peas or frozen peas and there are cooks in southern England that do the same.   Friends, those are completely the wrong peas.  Ask any Northerner and they’ll tell you that mushy peas must be made with marrowfat peas.

What Are Marrowfat Peas?

Marrowfat peas are mature green peas that have been deliberately left to dry out naturally in the field rather than being picked while they’re young like regular garden peas.  Marrowfat peas are what are traditionally used to make English Mushy Peas and they’re also the variety of pea used to make wasabi peas.  They much larger than regular peas and have a particularly high starch content.  This creates a very different consistency to mushy peas than regular peas will.  Cooked into Mushy Peas, marrowfat peas will give you a smoother, creamier consistency.

They’ll give you both a significantly different flavor and texture than regular peas and if you’re interested in making authentic mushy peas – the real deal – it will be worthy your time to hunt down the right peas.

Where Can You Buy Marrowfat Peas?

Unless you live in Great Britain, they’re hard to find.  I stock up on them when I go to England but fortunately you can also find them online.  You can buy genuine British marrowfat peas on Amazon.  Bachelor’s is probably the best-known brand of marrowfat peas.

mushy peas

Pro Tips

Again, if you want to make authentic mushy peas like the way they’re served at pubs and fish & chip shops throughout Britain, with the right flavor and right texture, be sure to use marrowfat peas.

The other key to making authentic mushy peas is to avoid embellishments.  Mushy peas are simple:  Marrowfat peas, baking soda (for softening), water and salt.  That’s it!  They’ll taste just like you remember them.

And as for green food coloring….NO WAY!!!!!

A really good fish & chip shop knows they don’t have to try and win you over by artificially making their peas look prettier.  Good mushy peas speak for themselves the moment you taste them.

mushy peas recipe british english authentic traditional

How to Make Mushy Peas

Let’s get started!

Dissolve the baking soda in boiling water.  Place the dried marrowfat peas in a bowl and pour the boiling water over them so they’re covered by at least 3 inches of water.  Give the peas a stir then leave them to soak for at least 12 hours.

Drain and rinse the peas and place them in a pot with about 3 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the desired consistency is reached.  Note:  How long you have to simmer the peas will depend on the particular crop and the age of the peas.

If it seems like it’s taking them forever to soften up, don’t worry, the peas will begin to break down within a few minutes (photo bottom right).

cooking the peas

Once the peas have fully broken down add the salt.

If the peas are too watery, continue to simmer with the lid off until it thickens to your liking.  If the peas are too thick, add a little water.  Taste again and add more salt if needed.

Once the peas are done they will start to thicken the longer they sit.  If reheating them later or the next day, add a little more water.

adding baking soda

Enjoy!

mushy peas recipe authentic traditional british english

Serve these mushy peas with British Fish and Chips or traditional meat pies.

fish and chips mushy peas recipe authentic traditional british english
© Travelling-light | Dreamstime

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mushy peas recipe authentic traditional British English

Authentic British Mushy Peas

Authentic British mushy peas just like you know and love them from your favorite English pub or chippy!  The perfect flavor, the perfect texture, make your own mushy peas the right way!
4.99 from 126 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Soaking Time 12 hours
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine British, english
Servings 6
Calories 108 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 9 ounces dried marrowfat peas (there is no substitute, marrowfat peas are larger, have a higher starch content, and contribute the right flavor and texture for traditional mushy peas)
  • Boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions
 

  • Dissolve the baking soda in boiling water.  Place the dried marrowfat peas in a bowl and pour the boiling water over them so they're covered by at least 3 inches of water.  Give the peas a stir then leave them to soak for at least 12 hours. 
  • Drain and rinse the peas and place them in a pot with about 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the desired consistency is reached. Once the peas have fully broken down add the salt. 
    Note: How long you have to simmer the peas will depend on the particular crop and the age of the peas.
  • If the peas are too watery, continue to simmer with the lid off until it thickens to your liking. If the peas are too thick, add a little water. Taste again and add more salt if needed.
    Once the peas are done they will start to thicken the longer they sit. If reheating them later or the next day, add a little more water.

Nutrition

Calories: 108kcalCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 7gSodium: 573mgPotassium: 312mgFiber: 8gSugar: 2g
Keyword mushy peas
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Originally published on The Daring Gourmet October 16, 2018

kimberly killebrew the daring gourmet

Hi, I’m Kimberly Killebrew and welcome to Daring Gourmet where you'll find delicious originals, revitalized classics, and simply downright good eats from around the world! Originally from Germany, later raised in England, world-traveled, and now living in the U.S., from my globally-influenced kitchen I invite you to tour the world through your taste buds!

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Recipe Rating




4.99 from 126 votes (95 ratings without comment)

101 Comments

  1. In Australia, we are more familiar with individual meat pies, lids opened then topped with oodles of mushy peas, then a ‘splodge’ of mashed potatoes followed by a dollop of gravy, then lid folded back over……very, very nice….pies aren’t the same without the mushy pies.

  2. Just thought I’d mention… I bought a package of 250 gram boxes of Batchelor’s Bigga brand Marrowfat peas. I poured out the first box and was surprised to see a little packet with a couple tablets in it. At first I thought they were desiccant tablets. No, it turns out the 250 gram box of Bigga Peas comes with it’s own soaking solution! (Just add hot water) Nice little touch! :-)

  3. I love mushy peas but would disagree that you should not add extra ingredients. A large teaspoonful (or more depending on personal taste) of mint brings the peas to a different level. Don’t argu just try it and you are sure to love the peas even more.

  4. I’ve lived in the US for 50 years, but I’m from Manchester. Yes, the bulk peas you get on Amazon work just fine. I have some soaking right now. Salt and Malt Vinegar (and maybe tartar sauce) are the only things to put on fish and chips. Ketchup is an abomination. Also, newsprint is essential. As I’m cooking, I put a cookie sheet in the oven and cover it with old newspapers. Works brilliantly. You can take the Mancunian out of England, but not the other way round.

  5. I am 80 years old, and just heard about mushy peas. I had never heard of marrow fat peas. I have a lot of regular dried peas (some whole and some split) – will they work in his recipe?

  6. Great recipe, very traditional. A note to anyone making these in my area of Britain (Nottingham, East Midlands) it’s traditional to top the cooked peas with mint sauce which is a mixture of spearmint (peppermint is more for desserts and won’t give the right flavour), white wine vinegar, an equal amount of boiling water, and a very small amount of sugar. You can also top with malt vinegar but it’s not as good. Just in case anyone thought mushy peas might be too bland or was wondering about traditional condiments to go with it.

  7. Good reciepe for the peas and correct that they traditionally are served with fish and chips or meat pies (pie and peas supper). But unfortunately you are completely wrong about where Fish snd Chips originate . It was in the North of England but not in Manchester. It was in Yorkshire and can be pinpointed to an area between Leeds and Bradford.

    1. Hi Paul, I don’t know that anyone knows for sure and even food historians don’t all agree. The two biggest contenders have been London and Lancashire with both claiming to have opened the first fish and chip shops in the mid/late 1800’s. But there’s a chance both are wrong – some historians argue that it in fact originated in Spain and Portugal with immigrants having introduced fried fish to Great Britain in the 16th century followed by the French Huguenots who settled in London introducing chips to Great Britain in the 17th century. Over time the two dishes became paired.

  8. Great to hear you have Welsh ancestors! Cymru am byth!

    These go great with proper Welsh faggots and onion gravy.

  9. Took me back to my childhood out with my dad having a bowl of mushy peas with a splash of mint sauce.
    Great recipe and my Kiwi wife loves them too.
    A taste of Yorkshire for me whilst living in New Zealand

  10. I was looking for a recipe , not a history lesson. Finding the actual recipe and more importantly the ingredients was a joke!

      1. Good job Kimberly. Love all your recipes and the travelogue helps me live my life through your posts. I am British through heritage, my father from London and my mother from cornwall (lands end) Thanks, keep up the good work.

    1. Really David… have a big glass of wine instead of a big mouth full of whine. BTW, there is a scroll button on the mouse that makes it really easy to scroll through the content of a web page in addition to the direct link “to the recipe” provided in these postings. Maybe it would be easier and more convenient for you to go down to the local library and search out a UK cook book and search for mushy pea recipes. Oh, wait a minute, there are to many other books there that you would not be interested in.

      What a joke you are… millennials… psshaw!

      1. While I agree with you your sentiment towards David, and very much enjoyed the entire contents of the web page, I get the feeling that the author of this webpage is a millennial or getting close to it as some of us are over 40 now depending on what metric you are using.

    1. They can but they won’t have as good of a texture (just like making hummus from dried garbanzo beans has a much better texture than making it from canned garbanzo beans). Cooking time will obviously be much less using canned.

  11. Found you after reading James Joyce Dubliners, trying to find out what in the world one of the characters was eating — “peas with vinegar”. Love the background on Chester, the photographs, and what a well-done blog you have! Can’t wait to cook the peas. Looks almost identical to my recipe for split pea soup in color and consistency (we cook the peas too long and like it that way!), but the flavor will be very different, I’m sure. I will try the vinegar and mint sauce, too.