Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Cullen skink

This is a lovely simple soup which me and Sammy made for our friends Kevin, Ros, Laila and Aisha when they visited us in Edinburgh. Cullen is a village in the north east of Scotland; skink, apparently, is the Scots word for a shin bone used for making soup. There are no shins in this one, though, just Arbroath smokies, which are delicious whole smoked haddock.

2 Arbroath smokies (whole smoked haddock)
1 bay leaf
whole peppercorns
1 small onion
1 lb of potato

Stage 1: preparation
  1. In a large pan, cover the haddock with boiling water, add the bay leaf and a few peppercorns, simmer gently for five minutes, remove fish from the pan and allow to cool, reserving the water. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and boil them in a little water. Once they are cooked, strain them and mash them until fairly smooth. (Or use a ricer, like Sammy.)
  2. Chop the onion very finely and fry gently in a little vegetable oil. Remove the skin and bones from the fish and break the flesh into smallish pieces.

Stage 2: assembly
  1. Combine the fish and onion in a large pan, with a little of the stock. Add the mashed potato, and then enough stock and/or milk to make a thickish soup. (No measurements or proportions here. It's up to you how thick or thin you want it to be, and whether you want it to be more or less smokey or creamy.)
  2. Stir in a teaspoonful of English mustard, check the seasoning and add salt if required. (The smokies are quite salty, so you may not need much if any.) Gently reheat the soup, being careful that it doesn't stick.

If you can't get hold of whole Arbroath smokies like the ones above, you could replace it with good quality undyed fillet. Whatever you do, don't use the nasty yellow dyed fillets. Far better to just use plain haddock (or cod or whatever else you fancy) and bump up the flavour with some herbs and spices. It won't be Cullen skink, but it will still taste good.

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