“A DAY FOR CULLEN SKINK AND IGNORING THE ROYAL HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY”
It’s been a windy day, rain spattering occasionally on the window and although it was warm enough to open the windows in the morning, the sun never really defeated the cloud cover.
I decided to curl up, read my library books and spend some time preparing a cockle-warming Cullen Skink, or smoked fish soup.
The soup is originally from the town of Cullen in Morayshire, on the north-east coast of Scotland. Skink, or knuckle of beef was the term used for soup meat. The word is used to define the fish soup, even though there are no bones. Recipes vary from area to area, so I’m sharing mine which I’ve developed over the years of tasting it every time I could when I was out for lunch.
I am so lucky here to have a van delivery every Saturday of meat, local eggs, vegetables and fish from The Arran Butcher.Their products are local wherever possible, far superior to packaged goods. They have all the ingredients for Cullen Skink
Smoked Haddock, Potatoes, Carrots, Onions and Celery if you like it.
Chop the vegetables into fairly large (1 inch) chunks. Put some light olive oil in a heavy skillet or soup pan. ( I use my beloved Le Creuset shallow casserole.) Add the onions and cook gently on low heat until they are golden, then add the carrots, potatoes, celery and smoked haddock. Stir gently to sweat the vegetables and fish and then cover with boiling water and a vegetable stock cube. Stir once more and let the mixture simmer on a low heat for 2 hours, adding more water if it begins to boil away.
When the vegetables are soft and the fish is cooked you can add cream or milk to taste and heat gently for a few minutes.
Sprinkle with fresh parsley if you have it and serve with garlic bread.
To me Cullen Skink is soul food, especially when the ingredients are local. If you don’t feel like making it The Brodick Bar does a mean version, especially welcome after a walk in the hills.
Since I can’t walk far at the moment, I’ve been looking through photos taken in the past few years of the Arran landscape and the variety of plants that appear at different times of year. The picture below is from Glen Rosa, showing wild flowers just about this time of year, peeping out from underneath a sea of bracken stalks.
There are primroses, mini-violets, wood anemones (known in our house as “vitsippor” – the Swedish name) and the bright yellow stars of celandine. I will be thinking about incorporating them into my mini-garden if I can, taking the unusual step of ignoring advice from the Royal Horticultural Society that suggests that celandine be removed from the garden as it is a weed. One organisation’s weed is another woman’s starry yellow flower.
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