Cullen Skink : A Great British Chefs' recipe

Faced with proper names, it often takes a while to fathom the correct pronunciation, at times odd names get distorted. About seven years ago, one Sunday afternoon, I was attracted to the window by the sound of laughter and high pitched screams, well before spotting young Tony, age 5, who lives up the street. he was running as if pursued by the entire Adams family, waving his little arms in the air, shouting "Nanny Sue, Nanny Sue."
We live in a very small street, so small that there is no pavement on either side and a gutter runs in the middle to prevent basements flooding when it rains heavily. On that Sunday it was not raining, only a resident was washing a car up the street therefore a lot of water was cascading down.
It took me some time to associate what Tony was saying with the real thing. In fact he was not running away from a Nanny called Sue, what he meant to say was, "Tsunami, tsunami".
Last week when I got an email from Great British Chefs asking if I wanted to be the first person to review a recipe called Cullen Skink, I felt exactly like little Tony, I could have skipped around the dinning table waving my hands  in the air chanting "Colin Stinks, Colin Stinks," but of course, serious reviewers do not act in such manner.
Therefore I called my mate Ailie and asked her to pronounce it properly for me and in her gorgeous Glaswegian accent she said something like "oh Aye, the Scottish Soup...Coolin Skink".
This soup is from the town of Cullen in Moray. It is prepared with undyed smoked haddock, potatoes and onions. It's an absolute delight, the smokiness of the haddock adds to the warm filling effect which the mashed potatoes inevitably have. The second part of the word, "skink" is a Scots word for shin which refers to the beef stock in which this hearty concoction is cooked.
It is such a great dish that many chefs have produced their own version. It would  be difficult to change the base of this soup though you will notice that Adam Stokes' recipe replaces onions by shallots which in my opinion are not pungent enough.
The differences reside in "the extras". Some add garlic and that's completly wrong. Others add leeks, can't really see the point of that; Jerusalem artichokes, each to their own. Adam Stokes add quails eggs, that is a better idea, still debatable, however, his recipe works like a charm.
  Cullen Skink
A Great British Chefs' Recipe   

  • 470g of smoked haddock, undyed
  • 500ml of milk
  • 2 large white potatoes
  • 4 shallots, diced
  • 1 knob of butter
  • 100ml of white wine
  • 500ml of chicken stock
  • 90ml of double cream
  • 12 quail eggs
1.Pour the milk into a pan and add the haddock. Place over a medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 8-10 minutes, or until the flesh of the fish turns opaque. Once poached, remove the haddock and set aside to keep warm - reserve the milk
2.Sauté the potato cubes in a pan with a knob of butter. Add the shallots and cook until both the potato and shallots are soft
3.Cover with the chicken stock, white wine, double cream and reserved milk, bring to the boil and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Season the soup with salt, pepper and mustard powder to taste
4.Meanwhile, in a separate pan, boil the quails eggs for 3 minutes, remove and cool in ice water. Once cooled, carefully remove the shells and slice each egg in half
5.Blitz the soup in a blender and then pass through a sieve
6.Remove the skin from the fish and flake into large chunks. Season with lemon juice and salt
7.Place 4 slices of quails eggs at the bottom of each bowl and lay some, but not all, of the fish flakes on top. Pour the soup on top and finish with the rest of the fish and more slices of quails eggs. Sprinkle chopped chives and parsley leaves on top and serve immediately.

Disclaimer: this post is sponsored by Great British Chefs, the recipe and photo have been reproduced with authorisation.

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