Cullen Skink recipe for new charity cookbook

I’ve recently been asked to contribute a recipe for a new cookbook which will be sold to raise cash for the charity Independent Age .

They provide friendship and financial support for older people on low incomes to help them remain independent in their own homes and I’m delighted to be able to help out in this small way.

The cookbook isn’t due out until September but will contain contemporary recipes which learn the lessons of wartime cooks as the book’s publication will coincide with the 70th anniversary of WWII.

With limited ingredients in mind I’m going to pass them this recipe for a traditional Scottish soup which is essentially fish and potato.

I first tried Cullen Skink when I was working in Aberdeen and it is a traditional favourite along that north east stretch of coastline.

Made of “finnan haddie” it’s also the sort of simple, warming dish visitors might find at my (very independent) granny’s croft on Orkney and so it seemed fitting entry.

I’ll be bringing more news about the book as it nears completion later in the summer but for now, please do enjoy some Cullen Skink.

Cullen, named after the town in north east Scotland, and Skink, meaning stew, is one of those sustaining soups best suited to windswept coastal locations.

The fish used should properly be the lightly salted and smoked undyed variety – which is much more delicate than the orangey coloured version we’re used to encountering in English fishmongers – and definitely worth seeking out to get the full flavour of this dish.

What you need
450g undyed smoked haddock
Water
1 finely chopped onion
750ml of milk
200g of buttery mashed potato
Salt and pepper
1 bay leaf.
Salt and white pepper.
Small handful of chopped parsley to garnish.

What you do
1. Skin the smoked haddock and cover with just enough boiled water to cover it.
2. Bring to the boil and then add the chopped onion and bay leaf.
3. Remove the haddock once it’s cooked and remove the bones but continue boiling the stock with the bones added for an hour.
4. Break up the fish into a dish.
5. Strain the stock and put back to the boil. Boil the milk in a separate pot and then add to the stock along with the fish.
6. Add the salt and boil for several minutes then add the mashed potato to a smooth consistency.
7. Add pepper and parsley to serve.

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