Aka Cullen Skink

Despite being passionately attracted to smoked foods, I discovered Cullen Skink only 3 years ago when working on my “Boring” British Food project. Today, I know so much about it, and I ate and cooked so many versions of this soup — it is difficult for me to restrict myself from writing a very long story.

To read: “Cullen skink is a thick Scottish soup made of smoked haddock, potatoes and onions. An authentic Cullen skink will use finnan haddie, but it may be prepared with any other undyed smoked haddock.” — wiki

There are many Cullen Skink recipes and articles about it. Some recipes are elaborate, other — quick and simple. Cullen Skink can be thicker and thinner, with higher and lower calorie count. No matter what recipe you trust, it is amazingly satisfying soup for cold weather. If you are in the U.S. and crave for true Cullen Skink — because you know what it is! — order Finnan Haddie online. (See more about Stonington Seafood in Recipe Notes section below.) If you are in Texas, have never tasted authentic Cullen Skink before, and not ready to invest too much money and efforts into its perfect taste — try my recipe below. I use easily available in Central Texas White Smoked fish found in Whole Foods, Central Market, and some HEBs. After you read about Nuclear Penguin below, you’ll start laughing ironically “Oh, yeah! Very easily available!” It’s my secret and teasing WOW-ingredient for coming Scottish Beer Tasting Party. It’s optional for this recipe.

Smoked Haddocks

To read: “Finnan haddie, also known as Finnan haddock and Finnan or Findrum speldings, is cold-smoked haddock, representative of a regional method of smoking with green wood and peat in north-east Scotland.” — wiki.

To read: The Arbroath smokie is a type of smoked haddock – a speciality of the town of Arbroath in Angus, Scotland. — wiki

Both can be used for making Cullen Skink.

Milk and Cream

Cooking smoked fish in milk is one of the interesting aspects of making this soup. In some cultures and cuisines these two ingredients never meet in the same dish for different reasons. One of them is related to cooking issues — higher concentration of sea salt curdles hot milk and makes the result less attractive. That’s why some recipes recommend to stabilize milk with starches — potatoes or flours. If you watch your carbs and/or avoid wheat gluten, follow my recipe below. I simply add some heavy whipping cream right before serving — simple and safe.

BrewDog’s Tactical Nuclear Penguin

Tactical Nuclear Penguin is not the main ingredient in this soup. And it’s almost impossible to find this beer not only in the U.S., but also in GB. Some beer advocates rate it highly as “unique, and definitely one to try if you can.” Other say it is “nothing more than a gimmick.” This strong 32% ABV Scottish stout is definitely for those who’s not afraid to step out of their comfort zone. When asked to describe the taste of Tactical Nuclear Penguin, I say imagine a liqueur with a concentrated flavor of stout, smoke, caramel, and all that jazz.

To read: “This one-time worlds strongest beer may have retired from the race these days but the penguin still tastes great and kicks as much ass as ever!”

Needless to say, it’s perfect ingredient for cooking! Do you like adding beer to soups, sauces, brownies, ice-cream, etc.? Try this beer beast, and you’ll be craving for it forever.

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My Memorable Cullen Skinks

First Cullen Skink I cooked with Richard’s Finnan Haddie.

Finnan Haddie
Finnan Haddie

Finnan Haddie
Finnan Haddie


The Teviot Smokery is a family run business located on the banks of the River Teviot in an 18th Century Coaching Inn. They use traditional smoking methods to enhance the natural flavour of the finest fare. We brine fresh local produce and smoke it slowly over a bed of oak chips. Their Cullen Skink was my first in Scotland.

Teviot Smokehouse, Smoked Fish
Teviot Smokehouse, Smoked Fish

Teviot Smokehouse, Cullen Skink
Teviot Smokehouse, Cullen Skink

This year we spent a few days on Islay during the Islay Festival Feis Ile. Living in a little cozy cabin with a beautiful view gave me an opportunity to cook. Guest what food is the best after tasting whiskey all day long? Yep. Cullen Skink. I added some ramps harvested next to Lagavulin distillery.

Islay, Saint Helena
Islay, Saint Helena
Islay Ramps next to Lagavulin Distillery
Islay Ramps next to Lagavulin Distillery

Islay Cullen Skink
Islay Cullen Skink

Smoked White Fish and Tactical Nuclear Penguin Soup

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time1 hr 25 mins
Course: Main Dish, Soup
Cuisine: Scottish
Keyword: beer, Cameron's stovetop smoker, cream, fish, lycooking, lyukum cooking lab, potato, recipe, soup
Servings: 4 portions


  • 240 g white fish tail part
  • 2 cup potatoes golden, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 cup leeks white part
  • 4 tbsp heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp kosher salt adjust to taste
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper freshly ground, adjust to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp scallions thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp parsley fresh
  • 2 tbsp Tactical Nuclear Penguin optional


  • Prepare all ingredients. Peel and cube potatoes, keep them in cold water till cooking. Wash and slice thinly leeks. Separate filet, bones, and skin of smoked wWhite fish tail. I prefer the tail for more skin and bones, which are used to make smoked fish stock.
    Smoked White Fish
  • Cover fish skin and bones with 6 cups of cold water. Bring to boil on high heat, reduce to low, and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the stock. Discard fish skin and bones.
    Making Smoked White Fish Broth
  • While fish stock is cooking, melt butter on medium heat, add leeks, and cook them till soft and fragrant. Do not brown them. Add potatoes and saute them for 4-5 minutes. Add smoked fish stock, season with salt and black pepper, add bay leaf, and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes, covered with a lid.
    Cooking Smoked White Fish Soup
  • Add Tactical Nuclear Penguin. Adjust the taste. Add half of scallions, parsley, and cream. Turn off the heat.
    Tactical Nuclear Penguin
  • Serve hot, sprinkled with more scallions and parsley.
    Smoked White Fish Soup with Tactical Nuclear Penguin
Smoked White Fish Soup with Tactical Nuclear Penguin