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Cullen Skink

Introduction & method

Cullen Skink - an odd name for a dish. It comes from the fishing village of Cullen in North Scotland, and 'skink' is thought to derive from the old Scots name for a soup or broth made from shin of beef. What that has to do with fish is anybody's guess.

Cullen Skink Recipe


Check over the fish to make sure it has no bones in it. Peel the onion and cut into small dice. Peel the potato and cut into 1cm (half an inch) dice. Chop the parsley or chives.

Cook the Fish

Place the fish in a large frying pan - it needs to be big enough so the fish can lie flat. Add the bay leaf and just enough water to cover the fish. Bring it to the boil. When the water starts to boil the fish should be cooked - simmer it a bit longer if it isn't. Remove the fish from the pan but keep the cooking liquor - you'll need it later.

Build the Soup

Melt the butter in a large pot on low heat. Add the chopped onion and stir to coat it in butter. Put a lid on the pot and let the onion sweat gently for five minutes. Add the potatoes and sweat for five minutes more. Cover with the fish cooking liquor and bay leaf, season with black pepper, bring to the boil and simmer until the potatoes are tender. While this is happening separate the fish from the skin with a fork.

Finish the Soup

When the potatoes are cooked, lift out half of them (and any onion that gets caught up) and set aside. Throw away the bay leaf. Add half of the fish to the pan and mash it - whether you keep it rough or make it smooth is up to you, the idea is to thicken the soup and give some variety to the texture. Season to taste with salt and pepper and add back the reserved potato chunks and the remaining fish. Stir in a tablespoon of chopped parsley or chives. If you like, you can add some double (heavy) cream. Heat gently and then serve.


The video above is from the Keef Cooks YouTube channel. Click here to see the video recipe of Cullen Skink on YouTube.


Ingredients & Info

 500 grams potatoes
 500 grams smoked haddock
 1 large onion
 500 ml milk
 50 grams unsalted butter
 300 ml water
 1 bay leaf
  salt and pepper to taste

Some of the milk can be replaced by cream for a richer flavour. If you can't get smoked haddock, any smoked white fish will do.

US Customary/Imperial

Serves 4 
Prep time: 5 minutes.
Cooking time: 25 minutes.
Total time: 30 minutes.