You don’t know exactly where you read it– maybe in Elizabeth David, either that or Edna Lewis or maybe Jane Grigson— but you finally tried a trick with cooking peas that you’d always figured was a little bit of a wives’ tale or just plain old bunk. Really, it couldn’t make that much of a difference. Could it?
Along with the other bits of today’s (Observed) Fourth of July BBQ at dad’s– grilled wild sockeye salmon, an English cucumber salad with dill and sour cream, a yukon gold potato salad dressed warm with olive oil, lemon juice, and pureed basil, scallions, chives and thyme with a wee bit of mayonaise (and the same sauce for the fish)– there were fresh-from-the-vine peas, de-podded today. Today, they were cooked the aforementioned, apocryphal way. It was delicious.
Take all the peas you can shell (enough for five is a good place to start). Cover the bottom of your widest pot with water, put in a teaspoon each of salt and sugar, add a good nugget of butter, at least a tablespoon but more will not hurt, it is butter. Bring to a boil, dump in the peas, cover, and steam until the peas are just tender.
Meanwhile, pick spearmint from your father’s backyard, two younger stems, and wash and pick off the tenderest leaves, chiffonade them, and then cut the strips into dice. Do this even though you’ve always had a prejudice against mint, because 1) it’s tradition and 2) because whatever apocryphal recipe/flavor combination that’s bubbled up in your brain is something you think Nigel Slater also likes, and my goodness but your esteem for that man’s pretty darned high.
Drain the peas. Put them into a largish white bowl so you can admire their color. Dress them with another generous nugget of butter, stir in the mint, and serve right away, enjoying the minty, buttery steam and the sweet, salty, perfect early summer taste of peas that– my goodness, yes, really are that much better for cooking that way.