Beach pea is also called sea pea for good reason: its seeds look like small peas and its shoots and flowers taste like pea shoots.
Where to Find It
Beach pea grows on most beaches in Denmark, both rocky and sandy ones. It can grow directly in the loose, white sand on the beach, or around rocks near the shore.
Salt marshes, beaches.
When to Find It
You can pick the shoots from April until June, while the flowers will be ready for harvesting from June until the first days of July.
Shoots: April, May, June.
How to Spot It
Beach pea is an herb that creeps along the ground. The stem is edged and typically 20-60 cm long. The oval leaves, which are a matte dark green on the surface but light on the underside, grow in pairs on the stem. The shoots grow together in thin pods and are made up of densely folded leaves that grow in clusters. The flowers look like tiny pinkish or purple orchids, and can also grow densely in clusters. The peas grow in small pods.
How to Pick It
Beach pea doesn't have a very extensive root system, and it often grows in the sand, so it's easy to accidentally pull up the whole plant. To avoid uprooting it, snip off the shoots while holding the rest of the plant in place. Beach pea helps prevent sand drift, so avoid taking large quantities.
Flowers: June, July.
On the palate
Beach pea tastes sweet and mild like peas and pea pods. The flowers are slightly stronger and sweeter, but can sometimes have a slightly bitter taste. The leaves are crisp.
Beach pea has a faint pea scent.
People generally use beach pea shoots raw or very lightly cooked. They can be flash fried, blanched, or stirred into a dish after it's done. The flowers should be used raw.
Use beach pea to add sweet crispness to dishes where you'd otherwise use pea shoots. Beach pea is quite good in summer salads and also works well with white meat, fish, risotto, lemon, parmesan cheese, mint, pasta, bronze fennel, and freshly baked bread with butter.
Cover the beach pea with a moist cloth and store in a sealed bag or airtight container inside the crisper drawer of your refrigerator, where the shoots will stay fresh for four to five days. Store the flowers in a cool, dry place and use them as quickly as possible.
No equivalent substitutions.
Risk of misidentifying the plant
There is no risk of mistaking the plant for another dangerous or undesirable plant.