Mushy peas might not be the top-selling item at Athena’s Fish & Chips – its line-caught haddock, homemade fishcakes and buttermilk chicken strips easily fill those slots – but that doesn’t mean this takeaway in the seaside town of Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, takes them any less seriously.
“There aren’t that many things in our industry that can be made in-house, so anything that we can we tend to do and that includes our mushy peas,” says owner Nick Damurakis. “Where we can’t make something ourselves we go for quality, so our fish is always high quality and sustainable, we buy the best potatoes and we fry in groundnut oil.”
Homemade mushy peas have been on the menu ever since Nick opened Athena’s back in early 2015 and to get the taste and colour just right he’s always used Ceres Mushy Pea Seasoning. “I hate it when you see mushy peas and they are luminous green,” he says. “They should be a lovely, natural green colour if you’ve done them correctly.
“That’s why I use Ceres Mushy Pea Seasoning, it’s the perfect balance of colour and seasoning. And it simplifies the process so you get consistency over time no matter who is making the mushy peas. That, ultimately, is what we are trying to achieve. You go into McDonald’s and, whether you like it or not, they are consistent. You know what you are getting every time.”
Never tempted over the years to pimp up his peas, Nick has learned a thing or two about how to get the best product, adding: “I know people that curry their peas, you could do that but, for us, the standard homemade mushy peas are enough. What we have changed recently though is how we soak them. We’ve gone with what Stelios recommended recently which is a three-stage soak and that helps the peas breakdown more easily.”
While he’s giving out tips, Nick also recommends thoroughly washing the peas, adding: “They have to be cleaned to get the best colour and taste. That’s for sure top of the list – and seasoning them correctly, of course.”
Not a fan of upselling at the till, Nick promotes the shop’s homemade mushy peas on social media and bundles them in with a meal deal.
“I’ll do a mini cod meal and a regular cod meal and reduce the price of the side if a customer buys the meal,” he says. “The customer is happy because they get value for money and also we’re happy because we’re making a good profit from it.
“And let’s be honest, cod or haddock, chips, mushy peas and tartare sauce – that’s fish and chips all day long.”