You Ask, We Answer: Mushy Peas
A little while back, Monica confessed she was having a craving for mushy peas and wondered whether she would be able to make them in the USA. She'd found a recipe, but as it specified using Marrowfat peas, she wasn't sure if these were available in her local shops.
This of course, is right up the You Ask, We Answer team's street, even if they have been a little tardy in responding to Monica's plea for help. As you can see, extensive research has been undertaken so you get an idea of what mushy peas look like. They're a traditional accompaniment to fish and chips (as sampled by George W when he visited Tony Blair) and if you also hear of someone eating pie and peas, that's the other main way they're served. When I lived in the north-east of England I found mint sauce is usually provided to go with the peas. Yum.
That's all very well, but it doesn't really tell you whether you can get hold of the right kind of pea to cook muy autentico mushy ones. If you can find dried peas like those pictured above (not necessarily in a box), then you can. Note they're wrinkled peas, which tells you they're quite starchy in nature. Dried yellow peas may also work: they still need to be wrinkly and you'll need to add a drop of blue or green food colouring to them if you want them to be green. However, if you leave them yellow, they should taste the same as the green version!
This video tutorial shows you how to make traditional chip shop mushy peas. Note you'll need to adjust the quantities to suit the size of family you're serving. The video gives a good hint: the peas swell up to around three times their dried size, so that should give you an idea of how much to use. Some recipes add a little sugar (though it's not really necessary) and don't worry if you don't have bicarbonate of soda* (you'll only need to use a pinch for a family sized portion of peas) as you can still make a good version without it. You can still see some peas in the video's final result: you may want to puree yours to make peas like the ones shown at the top of this post.
If you can't find dried peas like the ones shown, don't despair. You can make something similar using frozen peas. Simply cook them as usual, with or without some mint and then puree them using a blender or just mash them with a fork or potato masher. This is a simplified method of what posh chefs do over here when making their upmarket version of fish, chips and mushy peas.
Mmm fish, chips and mushy peas - that reminds me of a joke... ;)
*= you can leave this out, but the pea skins will be tougher