Like green splitpeas, blackeyed peas have a poor reputation in much of America. This reputation is undeserved. When properly seasoned blackeyed peas are one of the most delicious beans available. They are so good that they take center stage in many famous ethnic specialties such as gumbo and African groundnut soup. Blackeyed peas on their own, or with a little bit of butter, are so-so. If you must serve them plain, then they taste best if you add a hefty amount of black pepper and (if you have it) onion.
The beauty of blackeyed peas is that, like lentils and splitpeas, they do not require soaking before cooking. You can simply place a cup of them in a quart of water and then boil for about 45 minutes, or until tender. Depending on the age of your peas, they may take as long as an hour to become tender. This used to be the ultimate convenience food. You only have to boil for an hour, and dinner is done. Modern families think that 5 minutes in the microwave is too long to wait for dinner. Perspectives change over time.
Still, blackeyed peas are one of the easier beans to prepare because you don’t need to think ahead and put them on to soak the night before. You just plop them into a pot and boil until tender. Easy Peasy. 🙂
These blackeyed peas are one of the best tasting bean dishes I have ever eaten. Seriously, I am not exaggerating. They taste out of this world. They don’t just taste good for blackeyed peas, they taste good, period. Not just good in fact, but great. Plus they are blissfully cheap, terribly good for you and my kids never complain about having to eat them. It’s more like “Yay, we get Jamaican blackeyed peas! Mom must love us to make the good stuff for us tonight!” I’m paraphrasing, but you get the gist.
If you absolutely refuse to eat blackeyed peas, then you may use another bean instead. Black beans are good, as are chickpeas. I haven’t made it with lentils, but I expect they would be very tasty prepared this way.
Thyme is a traditional Jamaican spice. The dish is more authentic with thyme included, but if you don’t have any, simply leave it out. The flavor won’t be so very different and other herbs do not replace it well.
Jamaican Blackeyed Peas
For The Peas
- 1 cup dry blackeyed peas or 2 (15-ounce) cans
- 1 quart water (omit if you are using canned beans)
For The Onions
- 1 or 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 or 2 large onions, depending on how much you want to use
For The Seasonings
- 1 teaspoon dry thyme, optional
- 2 teaspoons chicken broth powder or 2 bouillon cubes
- 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
For The Heat, Choose 1, do not use them all
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon Habanero hot sauce, OR
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, OR
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper, OR
- 2 tablespoons Louisiana hot pepper sauce (yup, tablespoons), OR
- 2 tablespoons Tabasco sauce (yup, tablespoons), OR
- 1 fresh Jalapeno, OR
- 1 fresh Habanero pepper, OR
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, OR
- Something else that suits your ingredient situation
Rinse your blackeyed peas in fresh water to clean them. Place the clean blackeyed peas into a 2-quart saucepan and add the water. Simmer until the peas are tender, or for 45 to 60 minutes. The water should be boiled down so that the peas are juicy, but not exactly soupy. If the water evaporates too quickly, feel free to add some more as the peas cook.
If you are using canned beans, you may omit this step.
Meanwhile chop your onion. I use as much onion as I can afford because it makes the peas taste good. I aim for at least 1-cup of chopped onion, but use up to 1-1/2 cups if I have it to spare. When I only have a little bit of fresh onion, say 1/2-cup, I add 1 or 2-tablespoons of dry onions to the peas as they cook, and then use my fresh onion too.
Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet. Add the onion and fry until the onion is tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. If you are using a fresh hot pepper for your heat, then chop it up and add it to the onions to fry along with them.
When the blackeyed peas are tender, scrape in the fried onions. Add the thyme, chicken bouillon, soy sauce and coconut milk. Choose your heat source and add it too. Remember to only choose a single heat source. These are supposed to be spicy, but there’s no need to overdo it. I almost always use 1-teaspoon of Habanero hot sauce. Scotch Bonnet peppers are what they use in Jamaica, but they are not available at the stores I shop at. Habanero peppers have the same amount of heat as Scotch Bonnet peppers and make a fine substitute. Remember, this is a Jamaican dish and it is supposed to be smokin’ hawt!
Simmer the blackeyed peas for about 10 minutes, for the seasonings to blend. Serve over cooked rice. I always slice bananas alongside because they are cooling and sweet. Canned tropical mixed fruit is good with it too. For veggies, sliced cucumbers and carrot sticks can also help cool your palate.
Makes 4 servings.
Assuming 4 servings; prepared with dried blackeyed peas, 1-tablespoon oil, regular coconut milk (not light), and not including the rice you serve it over.
Per Serving: 259 Calories; 11g Fat (37.8% calories from fat); 11g Protein; 31g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; trace Cholesterol; 280mg Sodium.
Calories By Percentage: 38% Fat; 46% Carbohydrates; 17% Protein.
Exchanges: 1-1/2 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 2 Fat.