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Cullen Skink

The following is a resume of what is now a world-wide dish that is proudly known as Cullen Skink.

This rather odd name is said to come from the Gaelic word "Essence". Initially, Cullen Skink referred to a type of broth made with the scrapings of beef from the front legs of cattle. Hard times in the early 1890s left the Northern people unable to buy this product. By this time, Cullen Harbour (completed in 1819) had become the thriving centre of herring fishing and the village also specialised in the production of smoked haddock. With many families in the local villages having a fishing background, they turned to smoked haddock which was in plentiful supply. By using smoked haddock and various other products all put together, a distinctive delicious soup was made.

Hence Cullen Skink was born.

This is now a tribute to the many wives and mothers from the village who over the past years have made Cullen Skink for their families. Today housewives still make this delicious soup.

In January 1999 BBC2 sent a team from their popular Food and Drink programme, accompanied by presenter Michael Barry, to film a Cullen Skink competition by local housewives. Five ladies were duly selected and the television cameras rolled into the kitchens of the Seafield Arms Hotel. After much deliberation and tasting, the panel of judges chose Mrs Mary Addison as the winner and she was crowned the "Queen of Cullen Skink".

More recently, the Cullen Voluntary Tourist Initiative launched the Cullen Skink World Championships - with the inaugural competition in 2012. For more news on the Championships, please click here. For details of the winning 2013 recipe, please click here.

The recipe below is the winning recipe from 1999 - with the kind permission of Mary Addison:


4 fillets of smoked haddock (cut into small pieces)
Half a small onion (diced)
3 pints of milk
4 tablespoons of single cream
1 oz margarine
2 teaspoons cornflour (mixed with a tablespoon of milk)
4 medium potatoes (part boiled and diced)



Melt the margarine in a large saucepan, add the onion and smoked haddock and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the part boiled potatoes and milk, and bring to the boil. Add the cornflour mixed with a tablespoon of milk. Cook for 2 minutes and then add the cream prior to serving.

This project was part-financed by the scottish goverment and the european community moray leader 2007-2019 programme.