Aka Cullen Skink
Despite being passionately attracted to smoked foods, I discovered Cullen Skink only 3 years ago when working on my “Boring” British Food project. Today, I know so much about it, and I ate and cooked so many versions of this soup — it is difficult for me to restrict myself from writing a very long story.
To read: “Cullen skink is a thick Scottish soup made of smoked haddock, potatoes and onions. An authentic Cullen skink will use finnan haddie, but it may be prepared with any other undyed smoked haddock.” — wiki
There are many Cullen Skink recipes and articles about it. Some recipes are elaborate, other — quick and simple. Cullen Skink can be thicker and thinner, with higher and lower calorie count. No matter what recipe you trust, it is amazingly satisfying soup for cold weather. If you are in the U.S. and crave for true Cullen Skink — because you know what it is! — order Finnan Haddie online. (See more about Stonington Seafood in Recipe Notes section below.) If you are in Texas, have never tasted authentic Cullen Skink before, and not ready to invest too much money and efforts into its perfect taste — try my recipe below. I use easily available in Central Texas White Smoked fish found in Whole Foods, Central Market, and some HEBs. After you read about Nuclear Penguin below, you’ll start laughing ironically “Oh, yeah! Very easily available!” It’s my secret and teasing WOW-ingredient for coming Scottish Beer Tasting Party. It’s optional for this recipe.
To read: “Finnan haddie, also known as Finnan haddock and Finnan or Findrum speldings, is cold-smoked haddock, representative of a regional method of smoking with green wood and peat in north-east Scotland.” — wiki.
Both can be used for making Cullen Skink.
Milk and Cream
Cooking smoked fish in milk is one of the interesting aspects of making this soup. In some cultures and cuisines these two ingredients never meet in the same dish for different reasons. One of them is related to cooking issues — higher concentration of sea salt curdles hot milk and makes the result less attractive. That’s why some recipes recommend to stabilize milk with starches — potatoes or flours. If you watch your carbs and/or avoid wheat gluten, follow my recipe below. I simply add some heavy whipping cream right before serving — simple and safe.
BrewDog’s Tactical Nuclear Penguin
Tactical Nuclear Penguin is not the main ingredient in this soup. And it’s almost impossible to find this beer not only in the U.S., but also in GB. Some beer advocates rate it highly as “unique, and definitely one to try if you can.” Other say it is “nothing more than a gimmick.” This strong 32% ABV Scottish stout is definitely for those who’s not afraid to step out of their comfort zone. When asked to describe the taste of Tactical Nuclear Penguin, I say imagine a liqueur with a concentrated flavor of stout, smoke, caramel, and all that jazz.
Needless to say, it’s perfect ingredient for cooking! Do you like adding beer to soups, sauces, brownies, ice-cream, etc.? Try this beer beast, and you’ll be craving for it forever.
My Memorable Cullen Skinks
First Cullen Skink I cooked with Richard’s Finnan Haddie.
The Teviot Smokery is a family run business located on the banks of the River Teviot in an 18th Century Coaching Inn. They use traditional smoking methods to enhance the natural flavour of the finest fare. We brine fresh local produce and smoke it slowly over a bed of oak chips. Their Cullen Skink was my first in Scotland.
This year we spent a few days on Islay during the Islay Festival Feis Ile. Living in a little cozy cabin with a beautiful view gave me an opportunity to cook. Guest what food is the best after tasting whiskey all day long? Yep. Cullen Skink. I added some ramps harvested next to Lagavulin distillery.