All over Ireland and in many regions of the UK, particularly in the North and Midlands of England, mushy peas are almost as important a component of fish and chips as, well, the fish and the chips! At the very least, they’re every bit as necessary as salt and proper malt vinegar. Sometimes jokingly called “Yorkshire caviar”, mushy peas may sound a bit peculiar if you’ve never encountered them before, and we’ll admit, at first glance they do seem to reinforce some negative stereotypes about British food. But all we can say to that is: don’t knock it ’till you’ve tried it!
At Dalriata, we sell mushy peas from the best-known brand throughout Ireland and the UK, Batchelors.
What are mushy peas?
Fundamentally, mushy peas are exactly what the name suggests: peas that have been cooked until they become soft and, well, mushy. But it’s not as simple as that – the process of preparing mushy peas begins the day before, when they are left to soak overnight in water containing baking soda. Typically marrowfat peas are used, a variety known for its starchy texture and ability to transform into a smooth, creamy consistency when cooked. Some recipes may also include a pinch of sugar or mint for added flavor. The end result is a thick, pale green mixture that’s both hearty and smooth.
One of the most common ways to enjoy mushy peas is as a side dish, often served alongside traditional dishes like fish and chips, meat pies, or sausage rolls. It’s frequently found in chip shops across the UK, where it serves as a much-loved, comforting accompaniment to the standard fried fare. In some regions they’re even enjoyed as a snack in their own right.
What do mushy peas taste like?
Peas, mostly! Like any peas, mushy peas have a mild, earthy flavor with a hint of sweetness. But it’s their texture that makes them truly distinctive. They’re not entirely smooth, retaining a slight graininess that adds character to the dish and reminds you that this is, in fact, a legume that you’re eating. The creamy consistency perfectly complements the crispy and salty components of good old fish and chips, creating a satisfying contrast of textures and flavors on your plate. It elevates an otherwise somewhat monotonous (but delicious!) dish into something much more interesting.
What makes mushy peas particularly appealing is their versatility. While they’re often served as a side dish as described above, with a little imagination you can also get creative with them. Some people enjoy them as a spread on sandwiches, a topping for baked potatoes, or even as a dip. Call us crazy, but they might just work as a novel alternative to guacamole! Maybe warn your guests before you serve it up, though…