Recipe: Sea bass with pea puree and beetroot crisps

Seabass with pea puree and beetroot crisps

Seabass with pea puree and beetroot crisps - Credit: Archant

Emma Crowhurst celebrates the humble pea

Frozen peas are always available, rather under-rated and often used to make up the numbers vegetable wise.

I use them year round but fresh garden peas are in season from early June until late July. Mangetout are undeveloped garden peas, picked while the pod is still edible. Similarly, petits pois are young garden peas that are picked and shelled when small, young and tender.

Unlike mangetout pods, the pods of garden peas are too tough to eat, but popping fresh peas straight from the pod into your mouth remains one of life’s great pleasures. I grow them just so my children can have this pleasure. Very often, there is not enough for the pot as they have been eaten by the time they arrive back from the garden.

There is debate as to whether the pea is a legume or a vegetable. The pea is the small, edible round green bean which grows in a pod on the leguminous vine Pisum sativum, or in some cases to the immature pods. This legume is cooked as a vegetable in many cultures.

People rave about peas and broad beans eaten straight from the vine because the high concentration of natural sugars starts turning to starch as soon as they are picked. Instantly blast-freezing a fresh pea slows this process to a near halt, and many firms do this within hours of picking. Within a day or so, they are well on the way to becoming ‘mealy’ – you’ll know what I mean if you have ever shelled fresh peas and found wrinkly specimens within.

It is well worth looking for fresh peas in season. If you find them, ask how long they have been off the vine. If they are good, buy as many as you can carry and feast on them for as long as it takes – or freeze your own. Peas from the pod are a delicious nibble.

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If you can’t find peas in the pod, enjoy frozen peas as a vegetable and try a pea and mint puree to accompany meat, fish and even to finish a delicious risotto.

Locally, the annual Peasenhall Pea Festival attracts hundreds of visitors every year, with events such as pea shooting, the world pea-podding championships and national pea-eating competition. In 2012, the festival had an Olympic theme, celebrating the London 2012 games. This year the festival takes place on Sunday, July 14.