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The Arbroath Smokie - Burn's Night Starter - Cullen Skink

A firm shop favourite The Arbroath Smokie is a strong, smoky haddock that is salted, dried overnight, then smoked over a beech-wood fire—they have PGI status. That means they can only be called Arbroath Smokies if they are prepared in a very specific, traditional way and come from within a 5-mile radius of the small fishing village of Arbroath.

Dating back to the late 1800's there are some stories about where the Smokies came about. One of the most popular relates to a cottage in Auchmithie (A village outside Arbroath) in which haddocks were hanging up to be dried for preservation purposes. Unfortunately, a fire broke out and burned the house to the ground. Reputedly, it was then, whilst sifting through the ashes, wood, dust and associated debris that the ‘Smokies’ were discovered. This seems an unlikely story though, It is much more likely the villagers were of Scandinavian descent, as the 'Smokie making' process is similar to smoking methods which are still employed in areas of Scandinavia. Whatever the origin we can safely say they are delicious!

  • Cullen Skink with Arbroath Smokies

Serves 4

Tip: You will need 3 Large Arbroath Smokies for this recipe


For the stock (makes 1.2 litres)

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 2 Large Arbroath Smokies, meat flaked and set aside

  • 100ml dry white wine

  • 150g white veg (leeks, fennel, onion, roughly chopped)

For the soup

  • 40g butter

  • 2 shallots, finely chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 large leeks finely chopped - white only

  • 300 g Ratte potatoes or similar waxy potatoes Boiled until tender then peeled

  • 200ml double cream

  • 200ml milk

  • Meat from Arbroath Smokies


  • 1 Arbroath Smokie skin and bones removed - flaked

  • Chives Chopped


  • For the stock, heat the oil, add the veg and stir well. 

  • Sweat for 10 mins on low – don’t colour. 

  • Remove lid and add the wine, boil for 1 min. Add 1.2 litres water and the Smokie bones and skin. Bring up almost to the boil then skim well. 

  • Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 20 mins.

  • Cool and strain through a fine sieve, keeping the stock. 

  • For The Soup – With a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the butter and, when melted, add the shallots, leek and garlic. Cover and sweat for 5-10 minutes making sure they don’t colour.

  • Add the cooked potatoes, flake the smokies into the pan then cover and sweat for a further two minutes

  • Add 1 litre of the stock you made earlier and season with the ground black pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer for 8-10 minutes, then the pan off the heat and allow to cool slightly.

  • Pour the mixture into a blender or use a stick blender blend for a few seconds then add the milk and cream.

  • After some gentle reheating, flake the remaining smokie and serve garnished with the chives

Original recipe here by Nick Nairn


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