Cullen Skink

Well I had to cook something Scottish for Burns night! I fancied Cullen Skink but I’ve never cooked it before so I used this recipe from the Guardian as my guide. Cullen Skink is a tradition Scottish smoked fish “chowder”, and so perfect for Burns night! Happy Birthday Rabbie Burns! My favourite piece of Burns poetry (partly because it’s the only one I can remember in completion) is the Selkirk Grace:

Some hae meat and canna eat,
and some wad eat that want it,
but we hae meat and we can eat,
and sae the Lord be thankit.

Cullen skink


Serves 4 large portions

Approx. 500g undyed smoked haddock, skin on (about 2 large fillets of haddock)
A bay leaf
Knob of butter (about 25g)
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 leek, washed and cut into chunks
500g peeled potatoes (about 3 medium potatoes)
1 pint (568 ml whole milk), more in case needed
Chives, chopped, to serve


1. Add the fish and bayleaf to a large pan or wok. Cover with water (about 300ml water).Haddock

2. Once the fish is cooked, which will be very soon after the water has come to the boil, it will look opaque and you should remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon. Reserve the cooking liquid and bay leaf.Poached haddock

3. Melt the butter in the pan/wok and add the onion and leek. Cover with a lid and heat at a low-medium temperature until both onions and leeks have softened, about 10 minutes.Sweated leeks and onions

4. Add the potato and stir. Add the reserved cooking stock and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer then cover with a lid and steam the potatoes until cooked, about 10 minutes.Adding potatoes

5. While the potato is cooking remove the skin and bones from the haddock and flake the fish.Flaked haddock

6. Add the fish and milk, stir.

7. Discard bay leaf. Remove half of the solids with some liquid and blend. Return to the pan with the other half, stir. I tried mashing with a masher but the potato didn’t combine well enough with the stock to thicken the soup (this might depend on the type of potatoes you use). At this point you might want to add more milk if the Cullen Skink is too thick for you.

8. Bring up to boiling point then season to taste. Remember the smoked haddock will make the Cullen Skink salty, so be careful not to add too much salt.

9. Serve with a sprinkling of chopped chives.Cullen skink