Peas, Natural Pea Juices and Grains

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    4

    : You will Need to Begin this Recipe 2 Days Ahead

Appears in

Origin

By Ben Shewry

Published 2012

  • About

We serve this dish in spring when peas are at their sweetest. It’s a natural expression of what a pea is. In fact, when they are at their sweetest the dish becomes so sweet it could almost be served as a dessert.

We ‘cook’ the peas to order in a rotary evaporator during service. A very talented and loyal former staff member Cameron Paine was in charge of preparing fifty-five portions of this extremely tricky-to-cook dish every night. It was an arduous task that required great concentration as Cam had to manually control the vacuum pressure with his fingertips. A lapse and the juice would boil over and half the round’s portions would be lost. Combine that stress with the careful handling required to clean the huge glass flasks after each round he cooked, a machine that tries to suck fingertips off and an impatient Chef on the other end of the intercom constantly screaming: ‘How far on the peas? Hurry up on the peas, yeah! . . . Look mate, how long are those f***king peas going to take, eh!’

That’s not even taking into account that it took four chefs four hours each day to shell the 25 kilograms of snow peas required. Sometimes the simple-seeming dishes are really very complex and labour intensive. The less you put on a plate, the harder you have to work to make that dish a great one. When it’s a single ingredient like peas it makes it ten times more complicated.

Looking back now, it was a little crazy and I’m surprised Cam didn’t become unhinged. But that’s the mark of a great young chef: the ability to think calmly and rationally when everyone and everything around you is turning to custard, when the stress in the air is so thick it’s electric. At times, that’s the life of a chef. I wouldn’t wish it on my own son.

To Finish

  • sea salt flakes, to taste
  • 10 ml ( fl oz) lemon juice
  • 15 g (½ oz) fresh curd cheese (such as fromage blanc; you will need to make this 2 days ahead)
  • 16 purple wild pea flowers

In a bowl, combine the ‘cooked’ peas with the quinoa and freekeh. Dress with 1 tablespoon of the pea oil and season well with sea salt and the lemon juice.

Place the fresh curd in the base of each bowl. Spoon the ‘cooked’ pea mixture over the curd, covering it completely. Scatter the flowers on top.

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