Claire Fisher's Mushy Pea Stall, Victoria Market, Nottingham by Nottingham, England

Mushy Peas and Mint Sauce

What accounts for the enduring popularity of mushy peas and how do you cook them? 

As can be seen in the recipe below, they are a cheap and healthy snack which is simply made and has a homely, soothing taste. They go very well with all kinds of fish but are equally good on their own. Local chef Claire Fisher told me that the mint sauce is an essential ingredient which makes the dish “distinctively Nottingham” – an observation that archivist Angela Geary agrees with. Claire thinks that it would be very rare for someone to eat the peas without it. In 2016 she had her first stall at Goose Fair. This is her Mushy Peas recipe, which makes six to eight servings.

  • 1 tablespoon bicarbonate of soda
  • Sugar and salt to taste

Soak the peas overnight in fresh water for 9–12 hours in a very large bowl. (The peas swell up considerably so be prepared.) Drain off the water and rinse peas. Drop the bicarbonate of soda into a large saucepan of fresh water (with just enough water to cover the peas) and add rinsed peas. Bring peas to the boil and simmer for approximately 30 minutes until mushy. Season with salt and sugar to suit your taste. Serve a portion of hot peas in a small bowl with some mint sauce spooned over the top. Mint sauce can either by bought in jars from most supermarkets or homemade. 

To make your own mint sauce:

  • 1–2 tablespoons white wine vinegar to taste

Chop mint leaves finely (without stems) and put them in a small jug or bowl. Cover mint with the boiling water and steep leaves for approximately 10 minutes to bring out the mintiness. If using sugar, dissolve it in the water and stir. Add white wine vinegar to taste.