Image by Melissa O'Neill

Cullen skink

Ah, Cullen Skink. The Scottish delight that has gained a reputation as being one of the most quintessential dishes of Scotland and perhaps even of the United Kingdom itself. A thick soup made primarily with smoked haddock, potato and onion, it is impossible to reach peak Scottish satisfaction without tasting this savoury and olfactory divine.

Cullen skink

The origins of this dish remain unclear. Some stories suggest the dish was created in the village of Cullen by local fishermen or hustlers from the quayside, whereas other sources credit the creation to Mrs. Marshall, who was one of the employees at the local Cullen Hotel. What we do know however, is that Cullen Skink has been part of the Scottish diet for centuries, managing to transcend time and prevail as a beloved culinary classic.

As a dish, Cullen Skink is unassuming, rustic yet comforting. Though famed for its smokiness, the ingredients are simple enough to be cooked in any kitchen; smoked haddock, potatoes, onions and butter. Once these four ingredients, which are all integral to the recipe, have been combined and simmered in a pot, you can create an intensely flavourful dish that transcends just being a traditional soup. It’s a celebration of the finest food Scotland has to offer.

The umami flavours from the fish and onion, together with the sweet and saltiness of the butter, is what makes Cullen Skink a remarkable dish. Not only does the smokiness of the haddock bring a unique smell and inviting comfort, but it also provides an extra depth to the soup. All of this is complemented by the silky texture of the potato as it blends perfectly with the smoked haddock.

Cullen Skink is an iconic dish that has managed to stay relevant over centuries and spans across generations of Scottish families. It’s a dish that could truly be considered Scotland’s national dish, though arguably, like anything with roots in seafood, it can be difficult to make it stand out. However, with a few simple tweaks and a bit of creativity and ingenuity, Cullen Skink can be elevated to something extraordinary. Trust us – it will certainly be worth the effort.

The origin of Cullen skink

Ah, Cullen skink. The hearty fish-based soup from the region of Cullen on Scotland's north-east coast, it's a culinary delight beloved by many around the world. But where exactly did this soup come from? How did it come to be a staple of Scottish cuisine? Let's take a look.

Tracing the origin of Cullen skink is a tricky task that requires piecing together evidence from historical records and folklore alike. It's believed that the soup dates back several hundred years, with some sources suggesting it was first prepared as far back as the 16th century. Its name is said to stem from the area in which it originated - Cullen, situated on the Moray Firth.

The most commonly accepted story of how this soup came to be is that it was created by the villagers of Cullen from the local catch. Fishermen fishing the waters around Cullen would land their catch at the pier, where it would be quickly cooked using combination of the sea's bounty, including fresh haddock, potatoes and onions.

This simple recipe soon grew in popularity and spread across the country, being adopted by other coastal communities, who each added their own local flavour. As the soup's fame grew, its ingredients also evolved; from cream being added to the mix to more contemporary additions such as smoked haddock, bacon and leeks.

Today, Cullen skink can be found in pubs and restaurants throughout Scotland, with some variations made to suit personal preferences. And while the two main ingredients - haddock and potatoes - remain unchanged, cooks may choose to add other ingredients such as smoked haddock or bacon rendering the soup even heartier.

No matter how it's prepared, Cullen skink is a comforting dish loved by many across the country, a reminder of a rich cultural history that has withstood the test of time. This humble soup, born of necessity and evolving with the times, has become an integral part of Scotland's culinary heritage.

FAQs about Cullen skink

How long can you keep Cullen Skink?

Cullen skink typically should be eaten shortly after it is cooked, however it can be kept in the refrigerator for up to two days.

What does Cullen Skink taste like?

Cullen Skink is a Scottish soup made with smoked haddock, potatoes and onions. It has a creamy texture with a smoky flavor from the haddock. The potatoes and onions give it a hearty, savory flavor with a hint of sweetness.

Where is the best Cullen Skink?

The best Cullen Skink can be found in Scotland, but it's also popular in other parts of the UK, especially in Glasgow. It can be served in pubs and restaurants, or made at home using smoked haddock, potatoes, onion, milk and butter.

Why is it called Cullen Skink?

Cullen Skink is a traditional Scottish soup dish made from smoked haddock, potatoes and onions. The name comes from Cullen, a small fishing village on the Moray Firth coast of Scotland where the dish is said to have originated.

Types of Cullen skink

Ah, Cullen skink! A traditional Scottish dish that has been savored by generations of hungry Scots and enjoyed as a hearty breakfast or savory lunch. The rich, thick soup is a simple yet tantalizing blend of smoked haddock, potatoes, and onions and is often served with bread or oatcakes. But, did you know there are actually several different types of Cullen skink? Depending on your tastes, you can find the perfect version for you.

The classic flavor is undoubtedly the most popular among skink enthusiasts, featuring a smooth and creamy soup base with subtle smoky notes from the haddock. It's rich and creamy without being overpowering and suits many palates. For those looking for a bit more spice and kick, the spiced skink variety is the way to go. This version contains a healthy dose of chili, garlic, and other spices to create an invigorating and complex flavor.

For a more piquant taste, a mustard-based skink is an excellent option. The mustard adds a sharp flavor to the rich potato base, which cuts the heat of the chili and garlic. Alternatively, if you're looking for a lighter but flavorful dish, try a tomato-based skink. The tomatoes add a fresh flavor and delicate sweetness to the soup, while the chili and garlic still pack a punch.

Vegetarians and vegans will delight in the succulent vegetable skink. This version of the dish features a hearty mix of mushrooms, kale, and kidney beans in place of the fish. Despite the lack of fish, this vegetarian version of Cullen skink is still packed with plenty of flavor.

For seafarers who want to maximize their fishy bounty, the seafood skink is an excellent choice. Featuring generous amounts of prawns, mussels, and haddock it is sure to satisfy your cravings for seafood. Moreover, you can adjust the ingredients for whatever other seafood you may have on hand.

So, next time you’re in the mood for a nourishing and delicious soup, why not give Cullen skink a try, in whichever variety suits you best? You won't be disappointed!