Soak peas in cool water for 10-20 minutes. Then, with your hands in the water, rub peas between your palms to remove the skins, which will float to the top. Skim them off and repeat the cleaning process until there are no more skins. Drain the peas and puree them in a blender or food processor with about 1/3 cups water. (It's best to blend the peas in two or three batches so as not to clog the machine.) If the mixture appears dry rather than pasty, add more water, a few teaspoons at a time. To the last portion of the peas, add the egg, onions, pepper and salt.
Combine all the batches in a deep bowl and mix thoroughly with a flat wooden spoon. Beat for 2 or 3 minutes until the paste is light and airy. It should be of a consistency that can hold its shape in a spoon and roll off slowly. Drop by heaping tablespoons into 375 degree oil, frying until golden brown. (You may use either deep fat or a couple of inches of oil in a large, heavy skillet.) If you don't have a candy thermometer, test oil temperature by droping in one ball. It should sputter upon contact and become golden brown, without scorching, in about 5 minutes. As the balls are fried--3 or 4 at atime is all most pots can accomodate--remove with a slotted spoon and drain on clean, absorbent cloths.