Please Pass the Recipe

from one generation to the next

Cullen Skink

IMG_3775-0.JPG
After the resounding success of my replica British seafood pie, I felt emboldened to try my hand at Cullen Skink, a delicious hearty chowder of potatoes and smoked haddock.

This oddly named Scottish soup will forever be linked in my mind with the Isle of Skye. On a cold autumn night there, I chose Cullen Skink for dinner because I was curious about it’s name. After a couple of months of travelling the novelty of eating out each night had worn off and all I needed for dinner was something simple; warm and wholesome, but simple. The main street pub where we chose to eat served me a bowl of steaming, thick, creamy soup chock full of chunks of tender potato and flakes of tasty smoked haddock. At the time, it was perfect.

I’ve never forgotten that warming bowl of comfort. The memory of it has helped keep the magic of the Scottish Highlands alive in my mind. It’s a wild and desolate place, but the colours of the heather and bracken, and the mirror surfaced lakes reflecting the intense blue sky make it a picture perfect place to visit on a fine day.

None of my cookbooks reference Cullen Skink. A web search turned up a post on “the Guardian” blog “By Word of Mouth.” It detailed the many different ways noted British chefs make this soup. I felt sufficiently informed after a brief read to go it alone and make a Scottish Aussie hybrid.

On another cold night in Scotland, I learned to drink whisky, single malt whisky.

500g undyed smoked haddock
500 mls water
2 bay leaves
12 peppercorns
2 strips of lemon zest
2 spring onions, soft green tops only.

2 tablespoons finely diced celery
1 tablespoon butter
2 large potatoes, scrubbed, chopped into 1 cm dice
1 large potato, peeled, cut into 3 cm dice
500 mls of milk ( I used low fat lactose free )
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 spring onion green tops only, washed and sliced
1 tablespoon very finely sliced parsley

Bring the 500 mls of water to the boil with the bay leaves, peppercorns, lemon zest and spring onion greens.
Simmer for 10-15 minutes to infuse the flavours.
Reduce the heat to a simmer, then lay the haddock flat in the pan.
Simmer the fish for 5-8 minutes or until the flesh flakes easily with a fork.
Remove the fish and aside to cool.
Flake the cooked fish and discard the skin and bones. Set the fish aside.
Strain the fish poaching liquid, and make the volume back up to 500 mls with water.
In a medium saucepan with a lid, heat the butter then sweat the celery over a low heat for about 5 minutes.
Add the potatoes to the pan then stir to coat them in butter.
Add the fish poaching liquid.
Bring the pot to the boil, then put on the lid and lower the heat. Simmer gently for 15 minutes.
Roughly mash the contents of the pot with a potato masher. The soup should still have some texture.
Add the milk, the flaked fish and the sliced spring onions. Return the pot to the boil. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.
Stir in the finely chopped parsley.
Serves 6

About ladyredspecs

I live in sunny Brisbane, Australia. My love of good food drives me as a cook, a reader, a traveller, an artist and but mostly as an eater. I cooked professionally for many years but have no formal training. Simply guided by a love of eating good food, respect for ingredients and an abhorrence of artificial additives, I cook instinctively applying the technical know how acquired by experience. I hope you enjoy what I share Sandra AKA ladyredspecs

34 comments on “Cullen Skink

  1. Aneela Mirchandani
    October 6, 2014

    I love your idea of poaching the fish first and using the water…I wonder if that was a contribution of the original recipe or one of the Aussie ideas?

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      October 6, 2014

      hi Aneela, poaching the fish and using the stock for the soup is the traditional method, it’s very tasty

      Like

  2. chef mimi
    September 26, 2014

    I enjoyed cullen skink when I was in Scotland. How can you not try something with a name like that?! It wasn’t in the isle of skye, but can’t remember where. It was great, but yours looks even more fabulous!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      September 26, 2014

      Aw, thanks Mimi. I was keen to have texture as well as flavour. It worked! I saw the baby pics on Instagram, congrats the the new Grandmother. Exciting times ahead.

      Like

      • chef mimi
        September 26, 2014

        Thanks Sandra. I’m really excited!

        Like

  3. Kitchen-Counter-Culture
    September 26, 2014

    That is so beautiful! Thank you for the inspiration…. and you got me thinking about “undyed”– I wonder if you remember when pistachios were bright pink? That was kind of fun LOL.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      September 26, 2014

      It’s a pleasure. I’ve never seen dyed pistachios, perhaps they never made it down under, but our locally grown pistachios are pink edged when they are super fresh, they look gorgeous.

      Like

  4. trixpin
    September 26, 2014

    Oh yum! I love this dish and you’ve made it look so beautiful (no mean feat for a fish soup). Can’t wait to give your recipe a go πŸ™‚

    Like

  5. marymtf
    September 26, 2014

    The combination of ingredients looks tasty, except that I’ve not tasted haddock smoked or otherwise. What does it taste like, Sandra? (And don’t say chicken.) πŸ™‚

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      September 26, 2014

      “Chicken”! haha sorry, no the flavour is similar to smoked cod, but sweeter, less acrid.

      Like

  6. Francesca
    September 26, 2014

    That was meant to say’smokies’ – my fingers go too fast for my brain, or is that vice versa?

    Like

  7. Francesca
    September 26, 2014

    I love this soup so much too. I came across it in Cullen, on the East coast of Scotland and have been enjoying it ever since. All sorts of ‘somkies’ end up i the soup and it can often be quite plain. I love your vesion, yum. Could eat it for breakfast.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      September 26, 2014

      We didn’t get to Scotland’s east coast, we looped back from the west and north through the Speyside and Grampians, but I was very happy to made the acquaintance of Cullen Skink on Skye. It will be a regular winter soup now I’ve finally got around to making it myself

      Like

      • Francesca
        September 26, 2014

        Scotland is a stunningly beautiful place. we shed a few tears on Skye and then around Ullaapool as Mr T explored his ancestral places as we pondered the effects of the Clearances. Take me back, and to Ireland too.

        Like

      • ladyredspecs
        September 26, 2014

        Indeed! The Victorian era was very hard on the working poor of England Scotland and Ireland, I too give thanks to those poor and hard working displaced souls who are my forebears. Many tears were shed on our sentimantal journey around the UK too, I felt so many strong connections with place

        Like

  8. StefanGourmet
    September 26, 2014

    The name is intriguing to me, too. Why the potatoes prepped in two different ways and then mashed?

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      September 26, 2014

      I experimented a bit over a few batches of soup. I wanted it to be thick and creamy, but I also wanted some chunks of potato for texture. Varying the way I chopped the potato enabled me to achieve this with just the masher

      Like

  9. My Kitchen Witch
    September 26, 2014

    Love this soup! There are many variations of it in Scotland alone, so Your Aussie hybrid should fit in quite nicely. Cullen is a name of a town in NE Scotland and Skink refers to its original ingredient – shin of beef – but substituted by those thrifts Scots by smoked fish. The highlands are indeed beautiful!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      September 26, 2014

      I read so many recipes before I made this, the differences in ingredients and method were quite subtle so I just went for it. Very happy with the result. Deb I was reading Claudia Roden’s Jewish food the other day. She was talking about making cheese with pasteurized milk in the UK and the need to use a starter as well as rennet. I thought of you and your cheese experiments. I don’t recall if you succeeded in the end with a batch of fetta, but I’m happy to send you the info if you’re still in the development stage

      Like

  10. Serena
    September 25, 2014

    This is a must try recipe! πŸ™‚ So delicate and light, yet so flavourful!

    Like

  11. laurasmess
    September 25, 2014

    SO wonderful to see this recipe now that I’m in bonnie Scotland! I saw it on a pub menu the other day and I still haven’t tried it. Your recipe sounds delicious though Lady Redspecs! It’s very wintry in Scotland today so I might just venture to the watering hole for a pint and a bowl of this (and some oatcakes, to be sure!) xx

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      September 25, 2014

      Still travelling Laura? We loved Scotland, hope you do too and I urge you to try Cullen Skink. It’s seriously good, warming and comforting all at once.

      Like

  12. vannillarock
    September 25, 2014

    LOVE Cullen skink!

    Like

  13. cheergerm
    September 25, 2014

    I remember seeing this wee dish made on a Scottish cooking show a while back and thinking ‘what the’ at the name. You have weaved a picture of your Scottish visit beautifully and I wouldn’t mind a bowl of this right now. The weather has turned grim in the last few hours, I am about to finish making your asparagus salad (forgot the hazelnuts, darn it, so am using walnuts instead).

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      September 25, 2014

      Hope you enjoyed the salad Cheery! It’s wintery here today too after a burst of summer earlier this week.

      Like

      • cheergerm
        September 25, 2014

        Beautiful thanks Mrs LRS! The lemon rind and capers were fantastic with the asparagus. πŸ™‚

        Like

  14. suej
    September 25, 2014

    Very tasty and warming nourishment!

    Like

  15. Leah
    September 25, 2014

    Wow, this sounds delicious! I can almost picture you holed up in a little pub eating this soup.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      September 25, 2014

      Haha, yep I’m sure you can. It’s been a soup sort of day here today! Xxxx

      Like

  16. Darya
    September 25, 2014

    I really love the sound of this chowder (and its name). So simple, hearty, and yet light and delicious. I have always loved my dad’s New England chowder, but this would be a lovely change.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      September 25, 2014

      Chowder of any description is warming and delicious, i’m sure you’d enjoy Cullen Skink Darya…..

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Information

This entry was posted on September 25, 2014 by in FODMAP diet, Food, Gluten Free, Light Savoury Dishes, Seafood Dishes, Soup and tagged , , , , , .
%d bloggers like this: