mushy peas recipe

Ultimate British Mushy Peas

This mushy peas recipe is an authentic British side dish perfect to go along Fish & Chips! It requires a little bit of patience as you need to soak dried peas overnight before simmering until tender, juicy and thick. Healthy and delicious (in my opinion!) they’re a great way to add colour and texture to a particularly crispy dish.

mushy peas for fish and chips

What are Mushy Peas?

Mushy Peas are a traditional side dish served with Fish & Chips in England and Northern Ireland. They are found in fish and chip shops and pubs across the country and are served with meat pies or even roast lamb.

To make proper authentic mushy peas, marrowfat peas are used. Marrowfat peas are actually mature green peas that are left to dry out in the field and are much larger than the traditional frozen garden peas that are picked when much younger. They’ve got a much higher starch content than their smaller, frozen brothers which gives them the thick, almost ‘saucy’ texture that you get from braising them.

The only drawback about making the authentic version is that you need to soak them overnight with bicarbonate soda. This changes the pH level and allows the peas to breakdown allowing for the mushy texture. Once soaked, they just require a 20 minute simmer and they’ll be ready!

Soaked marrowfat peas after being braised in chicken stock for 20 minutes

Psst. Check out our authentic British fish and chips recipe!

What You’ll Need

To make them, you’ll need:

Marrowfat peas that you can buy in UK supermarkets

Marrowfat Peas: dried marrowfat peas are the only peas that you can use to make authentic mushy peas. If you’re outside of the UK you can buy them online. Unfortunately you can’t substitute with frozen petit pois or garden peas as they don’t have enough starch content.

Bicarbonate Soda: Bicarbonate soda is added into the soaking water to help soften the peas. The bicarb reduces the pH level allowing the peas to become breakdown more when braising.

Chicken Stock: I use chicken stock to braise the peas in as it adds even more flavour. You can of course use vegetable stock/broth or just use water!

Lemon: A squeeze of lemon juice is added for a bit of acidity to help brighten up the flavour. You can also use malt vinegar which is more traditional!

Optional: You can add mint and parsley right at the end to add some herby flavour. Butter can also be added to make the mushy peas even richer!

How to Make Mushy Peas

  1. The day before, soak the marrowfat peas and add the bicarbonate soda. Leave to soak for at least 12 hours (no need to put them in the fridge ).

  2. Once soaked, place the drained peas into a sauce pan and add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil and simmer on low for 15-20 minutes. The peas should start to break up and the liquid should be nice and thick. You can mash the peas a bit with a masher or spoon.

  3. Once at the right consistency, season to taste and add lemon juice or vinegar and if using, butter.

FAQ: Mushy Peas

Why Are They Served with Fish & Chips?

Mushy peas are traditionally served with fish and chips. There’s no real historical explanation why but the peas add a nice contrasting texture to the crispy chips and beer battered fish. There’s also of course a lovely bright green colour from home made mushy peas that add to the distinctly mono-colour plate!

Finally fish and chips are, unfortunately, not the healthiest of dishes. The peas add nutrition to an otherwise fatty meal which leads us to the next question..

Are They Healthy?

Yes! Mushy peas are just cooked down marrowfat peas which are older garden or petit pois peas. They’re high in fibre, protein and essential minerals. Just like their small cousins, they’re extremely healthy. Obviously adding butter and extra salt to the mushy peas naturally makes them slightly less healthier!

When Were They Invented?

There’s no real information about when mushy peas were invented. The term for dried green peas, marrowfat, dates back to around 1730 when the two words ‘marrow’ and ‘fat’ were combined. It’s widely believed that mushy peas originate from the UK in the late 1800s when fish and chips became popular.

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