3rd Cullen Skink World Championships - Sunday 23rd November 2014
What a fantastic day we had! Brilliant sunshine in Cullen - the fabulous setting of the Cullen Bay Hotel with views of the beach - and 2 very worthy winners.
Now in its 3rd year, the Cullen Skink World Championships continue to go from strength to strength. This year, the entrants included locals and competitors from further afield. So, with the new Cullen Skink with a Twist competition in place, it seems fair that one stayed at home, and the other - for the first time ever - went further afield.
After 2 years of locals winning the Traditional Cullen Skink competition, this time around we congratulate Neal Robertson from Auchtermuchty on his great win. Neal has collected a number of other titles - including World Porridge Champion 2010, World Speciality Porridge Champion 2011, and awards in the World Stovie and Jam Making Championships. Neal has now got his eyes firmly focussed on the World Mince and Tattie Championships in Mull in 2015, as well as defending his Cullen Skink title of course. If you want to try out Neal's winning recipe, see below.
The inaugural Cullen Skink with a Twist title went to Ian Watson of Cullen who was inspired by a traditional fish chowder from Bermuda which includes black rum and chilli pepper. He marinaded the wood chips in black rum and molasses to give the fish a sweet, smoky texture; he then added garlic, chilli, sweet potato, leeks, peppers and port sherry.
Many thanks from the Cullen Voluntary Tourist Initiative to all those who participated and organised the day; particular thanks to Mrs Clare Russell, Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire, and Louie Paterson from Cluny Fish who had the very onerous, but hopefully tasty, task of judging the entries. And to the Cullen Bay Hotel, Ian and Rena Watson, for their continued support of the event.
Makes 3 hearty or 4 generous portions
Medium onion very finely diced (I lost a bit of fingernail during the competition, THAT fine)
250g Duke of York potatoes from Stuart Morris at Balgersho, diced to 1cm
25g unsalted Scottish butter
10ml Stark’s rapeseed oil
Salt and pepper
300ml water from your favourite well
250g undyed smoked haddock from the lovely wee fish shop in Lady Wynd, Cupar (make the effort, you do want to win!)
500ml full fat gold top milk from Graham’s
Chiffonade of parsley and chives
Lay the fish in a wide enough pan for it to lie flat, cover with the milk and bring to the boil. Turn off the heat and leave to rest for five minutes.
Tip the onion, butter, oil, salt and pepper into a large pan and fry gently until the onion is transparent. You are smart enough to know that if the onion colours it will become bitter and you will have to start again. Tip in the potato and fry for another few moments. Crank up the heat and add the water, lift the fish from the milk and pour it in. Ease down to a gentle simmer (the soup, not you).
Break the fish into large chunks, removing any skin or bones.
Chop some parsley and chives until you can’t bear to chop any more, that is a chiffonade.
*Tricky bit klaxon*
Not that tricky, really. Take a couple of ladles of the soup and pound in a mortar and pestle until smooth, then tip back in. You now have a thick soup that still has chunks in it. Aren’t you clever!
Slide the fish back into the soup, warm through gently then serve with a sprinkle of chiffonade on top and crusty home made bread on the side. You DO make your own bread, don’t you!
Neal Robertson, World Cullen Skink Champion 2014, www.thesponco.com
11 Seafield Place,
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