The author and cook, Heather

Geillis's Cullen Skink

Outlander Kitchen

I can honestly say I had no idea what cullen skink was before I saw the recipe in this book. It seemed so interesting, though, that I'd been wanting to make it since I saw it. Sadly, I had a really hard time finding any kind of smoked white fish (much less finnan haddie) here. But, eventually I saw some, snatched it up, and here we go!

There's no picture of this one in the book, so I didn't have much idea of what to expect. I should have, reading the ingredients, but was still surprised that it ended up very much like a New England style chowder, just with smoked fish instead of clams. But that's good, since I do really like that style of clam chowder.

The family all enjoyed it, but I would prefer it a bit thicker. (I do like a thick clam chowder, so that's not surprising.) The recipe on her website ( is different only in the amounts of some ingredients, and looks like it would have a thicker end product, but I haven't tried those proportions myself.

It's definitely more of an appetizer or light lunch with a salad kind of soup. It just didn't feel quite hearty enough for a substantial meal.

Serving Size1/6 of recipe
Carbohydrates23g (2g fiber 8g sugar)


[00:00]: [Music]
[00:04]: hello and welcome to cooking the books
[00:06]: with heather today we're going to be
[00:08]: making
[00:09]: gala's cullen skink from theresa carl
[00:11]: sanders outlander kitchen cookbook
[00:14]: i have to say it's been really difficult
[00:16]: to find a smoked white fish here where i
[00:21]: live in north carolina um
[00:24]: i've seen this once before but they
[00:26]: don't have it all the time and
[00:29]: if other stores have it it's not
[00:31]: something that they have on their
[00:32]: website so
[00:34]: um
[00:35]: not a common ingredient
[00:37]: uh it calls for
[00:40]: finn and hattie which is a
[00:43]: cold smoked
[00:44]: probably haddock
[00:46]: uh from scotland
[00:48]: obviously so
[00:50]: um
[00:52]: but i don't know exactly what kind of
[00:54]: fish this is but it just says it is
[00:57]: a
[00:58]: smoked white fish
[01:00]: mine
[01:01]: sadly came
[01:05]: with everything
[01:06]: head tails fins all of that
[01:10]: we're supposed to
[01:11]: make this skinless
[01:13]: so
[01:14]: that is my first goal here
[01:17]: to um
[01:20]: i have a little bit more than the recipe
[01:22]: calls for so i'm going to be weighing
[01:23]: that out to get about what the recipe
[01:27]: calls for i don't know what i'll do with
[01:29]: the rest but we'll figure it out um
[01:32]: so i've got some scissors
[01:35]: i'm not squeamish i can deal with the
[01:37]: head and the skin and everything but
[01:38]: taking the skin off i'm not sure how
[01:40]: that's gonna go sometimes it's hard
[01:42]: sometimes it's easy um and i hope that i
[01:44]: can get it off without
[01:47]: having it all sort of fall apart so
[01:50]: we'll see
[01:53]: okay i've gotten
[01:55]: almost exactly what i need for this
[01:57]: recipe
[01:59]: off of this fish so i'm happy about that
[02:03]: um i already had a bay leaf in there i
[02:05]: don't know if you guys saw that it's
[02:06]: just one sort of standard dried bay leaf
[02:11]: [Music]
[02:13]: and now i'm going to cover this with a
[02:15]: certain amount of water so she
[02:17]: tells you how much water to use and i
[02:19]: think we're going to use
[02:21]: some of it later
[02:24]: for the for the soup so
[02:26]: i didn't talk about what
[02:28]: cullen skink actually is it is um
[02:32]: a
[02:34]: soup it is basically a chowder um there
[02:38]: it's a milk based
[02:39]: uh fish and potatoes and leeks and
[02:43]: there's not really a whole lot else to
[02:44]: it besides that so
[02:47]: that's what we're making today a chowder
[02:50]: i'm going to clean up here a little bit
[02:52]: wash my hands
[02:56]: so i'm covering this
[02:58]: fish that i massacred a little bit too
[03:00]: much i think
[03:02]: with cold water it's not quite covered
[03:05]: it's fine that's the amount she said to
[03:07]: use
[03:07]: um
[03:10]: and i'm going to put this
[03:12]: on medium heat on the stove and cook it
[03:15]: gently until just tender only about five
[03:17]: minutes so
[03:19]: i'm gonna do that i'm gonna clean up and
[03:20]: then we're gonna talk about the rest of
[03:22]: our ingredients
[03:24]: while that's coming to a boil
[03:27]: um
[03:29]: i have here
[03:32]: so i
[03:34]: have made the kakaliki from this this
[03:37]: book
[03:38]: she doesn't really tell you so much
[03:39]: about exactly how to slice these
[03:41]: although she does say to slice them
[03:43]: thinly and then put them in water and
[03:47]: scoop
[03:48]: them out of the top so you put them in
[03:51]: water and all of the dirt falls down
[03:53]: into the bottom of the
[03:56]: bowl
[03:57]: and
[03:58]: you scoop the
[03:60]: floaty
[04:01]: leeks off top so these are the white
[04:03]: parts only um
[04:06]: white and a little bit of light green is
[04:07]: what i have here
[04:09]: a little bit fell through so i took it
[04:11]: out and you can dry it in a dish towel
[04:13]: or i just use my salad spinner
[04:17]: so those are the leeks
[04:19]: and then i've got some potatoes here
[04:22]: that i have diced uh for her
[04:25]: that's a little bit big but um
[04:28]: she says
[04:29]: quarter inch cubes these are probably a
[04:32]: little more than a quarter inch but i'm
[04:34]: not worrying about it too much because
[04:37]: we're going to be pureeing most of this
[04:40]: not all of it but most of it
[04:43]: and um
[04:45]: i'm i did what i thought was fine for
[04:48]: this
[04:49]: i used a yukon gold potato
[04:53]: she does not say what kind of potato to
[04:55]: use i find yukon golds work pretty well
[04:59]: in just about any application so
[05:03]: soup or mashed potatoes or whatever so
[05:05]: they're a good thing for me to have on
[05:06]: hand
[05:07]: so that's what i got for this
[05:09]: she did say
[05:10]: medium potatoes and
[05:14]: i would much rather
[05:16]: have a have a like pound
[05:20]: measurement there like is it a pound
[05:21]: potatoes or is it
[05:23]: like half a pound of potatoes because i
[05:24]: don't know what a medium potato is some
[05:26]: potatoes are really big some potatoes
[05:28]: are really small what's medium
[05:30]: anyway
[05:32]: so i chose some of the bigger ones of
[05:34]: these potatoes
[05:36]: because they tend generally kind of
[05:38]: small
[05:39]: so
[05:41]: that's what i chose
[05:43]: um
[05:45]: and besides this all we really need is
[05:48]: and and the fish and the bay leaf of
[05:49]: course are um is some butter some salt
[05:53]: and pepper
[05:54]: and
[05:55]: some milk and we're going to
[05:58]: um
[05:59]: garnish with some green onion and that's
[06:02]: it so this is a pretty simple recipe
[06:05]: i'm gonna
[06:07]: keep waiting for my
[06:09]: um
[06:11]: fish to
[06:13]: boil and let it boil for
[06:16]: low boil for
[06:18]: five minutes so we're cooking it gently
[06:21]: i'm just slicing my green onions we're
[06:24]: supposed to be sliced thin on the
[06:26]: diagonal white and light green parts
[06:28]: only
[06:29]: but they're only used for garnish so you
[06:31]: know
[06:33]: [Music]
[06:36]: so my fish has been
[06:38]: sort of gently bubbling for
[06:42]: uh
[06:44]: five minutes it's a really long time to
[06:46]: come up to a boil i turned it up a
[06:48]: little bit and then turned it back down
[06:50]: to help it come along faster so we're
[06:53]: supposed to strain this um
[06:56]: reserve the cooking liquid for later and
[06:58]: then we have to debone the fish so
[07:01]: i'm going to see what i can do here
[07:14]: and get all of this
[07:17]: i'm supposed to keep this bay leaf as
[07:19]: well
[07:21]: right now my goal is to get all of this
[07:23]: fish in here to cool down a little bit
[07:25]: so from there i can
[07:28]: debone it
[07:29]: so i'm gonna let this cool off a little
[07:31]: bit and then i'm going to try to pull
[07:33]: all of these bones out
[07:36]: some are big some are small
[07:39]: and then i'm going to flake it into this
[07:41]: bowl she says to use forks
[07:44]: i have a feeling that as i'm pulling the
[07:46]: bones out i'll just be doing it with my
[07:48]: hands so
[07:51]: when we're done with that we'll meet you
[07:53]: over at the stove to finish up this soup
[07:56]: so i finished pulling all of our fish
[07:60]: apart i didn't end up needing i didn't
[08:02]: think uh to pull it to flake it with
[08:06]: forks because
[08:08]: it fell apart pretty easily and
[08:10]: i had to do that to find all of the
[08:13]: bones there were several bones most of
[08:15]: them were pretty big and pretty easy
[08:17]: to uh to find so
[08:19]: that's good
[08:22]: i have a soup pot here she says to use a
[08:26]: saucepan yeah a saucepan of some sort i
[08:28]: have the soup pot that i like to use for
[08:30]: relatively small batches of soup
[08:32]: um hopefully this will fit
[08:34]: um
[08:35]: [Music]
[08:36]: so melting some butter
[08:38]: on medium heat and it's almost melted
[08:42]: i'm going to go ahead and add
[08:44]: our leeks so this is just all of the
[08:46]: leeks that i've prepared and it's going
[08:48]: to take a little bit to get them all out
[08:53]: of the bits of my salad spinner but i'll
[08:56]: get as much as i can out
[08:58]: and then this needs just a pinch of salt
[09:02]: and pepper
[09:05]: there are no measurements for the salt
[09:06]: and pepper in this recipe so it'll all
[09:09]: be sort of by
[09:10]: taste
[09:18]: so we're just going to
[09:20]: stir them occasionally and cook them
[09:22]: until the until these leeks are just
[09:24]: softened she says three to four minutes
[09:25]: we'll see we'll see
[09:27]: these have been
[09:29]: cooking for about five minutes maybe a
[09:31]: little bit more i'm gonna go drain my
[09:33]: potatoes i've just had them um
[09:35]: sitting in water
[09:37]: so they don't brown
[09:38]: okay so i'm just going to add all of my
[09:40]: potatoes in here
[09:44]: and then all of our reserved cooking
[09:46]: liquid and the bay leaf
[09:50]: there we go
[09:52]: so we're going to bring this up to a
[09:54]: simmer and we're going to simmer it on
[09:56]: medium-low heat just until the potatoes
[09:58]: are
[09:59]: tender she says 10 to 15 minutes so that
[10:01]: will depend
[10:02]: on how big you cut your potatoes and
[10:05]: some potatoes cook faster or slower so
[10:08]: um
[10:09]: we will see you
[10:11]: well we'll we'll bring i'm gonna turn it
[10:13]: up a little bit just to get it
[10:16]: uh to a simmer
[10:17]: and then we'll turn it down as soon as
[10:20]: it starts simmering just i don't want to
[10:22]: wait forever for this i'm ready to have
[10:24]: dinner so
[10:27]: we're already a little later than we
[10:29]: wanted to be i'll leave it at medium for
[10:31]: right now but start keeping track of
[10:33]: time because it's definitely simmering
[10:36]: so
[10:37]: 10 to 15 minutes about 10 minutes i'll
[10:39]: check the potatoes
[10:41]: this has been cooking for about 15
[10:42]: minutes and we're you do want these to
[10:45]: be at a point where you want to eat them
[10:47]: but not mushy
[10:49]: because right now we're going to take
[10:50]: some of this mixture
[10:54]: out
[10:55]: to use it as a garnish on our bowls with
[10:59]: a slotted spoon
[11:01]: and
[11:02]: in my bowl i know about what a cup is
[11:05]: and i think that's about a cup and
[11:07]: that's fine you don't have to be too um
[11:14]: too particular about exactly how much
[11:17]: because you're just putting it on this
[11:18]: garnish
[11:19]: um
[11:21]: but you do want those potatoes to be
[11:22]: edible uh
[11:24]: and not mushy
[11:27]: mine at about 10 minutes i could put the
[11:29]: fork through them but i've tasted a
[11:30]: piece and it was a little bit underdone
[11:32]: for what i wanted to eat but these are
[11:34]: good
[11:35]: so now i took out the bay leaf
[11:38]: i'm gonna add half
[11:40]: of this fish
[11:44]: in here
[11:46]: there we go
[11:47]: about half whatever you're also going to
[11:49]: use this with the potatoes as
[11:52]: garnish
[11:54]: so i'm going to sort of stir that in and
[11:57]: also add
[11:59]: this is some whole milk
[12:03]: there we go
[12:06]: and now everything in here is cooked
[12:08]: but we want to
[12:09]: warm up the whole milk and
[12:13]: the fish that had cooled off
[12:15]: so i'm going to
[12:17]: turn it up just a little bit so we can
[12:18]: get it back to a simmer
[12:20]: i never turned mine lower than uh medium
[12:24]: on my stove and with this my stove
[12:27]: and this pan
[12:29]: that kept it at a good simmer and not a
[12:31]: super hard boil so that was perfect for
[12:32]: me for cooking the potatoes this has
[12:34]: been heating up for a little while i'm
[12:36]: pretty sure it's hot i turned it up
[12:38]: because i'm impatient um and you don't
[12:41]: really want this to boil right now but
[12:43]: you want it to to get hot to eat
[12:46]: and now i'm using my favorite tool the
[12:49]: immersion blender she does in fact say
[12:51]: you can use that for this recipe and i'm
[12:53]: going to be very messy with it i'm
[12:54]: absolutely sure because always then it's
[12:56]: going to go all over the place but i
[12:58]: still love it
[12:60]: so we're going to puree all of this
[13:02]: with our immersion blender
[13:04]: you can also use a a blender a regular
[13:07]: blender it just takes a little more time
[13:10]: with batches and
[13:13]: hot hot hot items so this is easier in
[13:16]: my opinion
[13:18]: [Music]
[13:23]: all right
[13:25]: that's it i think
[13:26]: those items pureed a lot better than the
[13:28]: mushrooms from the mushroom soup that we
[13:31]: made i'll link that up above um
[13:34]: when i also use the immersion blender
[13:37]: these get softer mushrooms are much
[13:39]: harder to blend
[13:41]: that's it we want to just keep you want
[13:43]: to keep this warm and not boil it
[13:46]: until you're ready to serve and when you
[13:48]: serve you put some of the potatoes and
[13:52]: leek mixture and some of the fish and
[13:54]: then put some of our
[13:56]: sliced scallions green onions on top of
[13:59]: that and that's it oh i forgot i need to
[14:02]: taste this and season it because we have
[14:04]: not put any more salt or pepper in this
[14:07]: since the very beginning
[14:14]: it does need salt and pepper i'm going
[14:16]: to put quite a bit of salt in here
[14:21]: it's better than i expected because that
[14:22]: fish can get kind of salty and the smoky
[14:25]: flavor also gives you a little bit of
[14:27]: that
[14:28]: not really salty but a little bit more
[14:30]: flavor than you know
[14:32]: unsmoked fish
[14:50]: i think that's good
[14:52]: um
[14:53]: all right we will show you what it looks
[14:54]: like when we're done plating it up and
[14:57]: tell you what we think in just a minute
[14:60]: [Music]
[15:07]: on this episode of cooking the books
[15:09]: with heather you watched me make
[15:11]: gayless's cullen skink from the
[15:15]: outlander kitchen one cookbook from
[15:17]: teresa carl sanders
[15:20]: i meant to talk about this in the
[15:21]: beginning but i kind of got right into
[15:24]: it really quickly
[15:25]: the
[15:27]: word skink so around here we have
[15:30]: little lizard creatures that are called
[15:33]: skinks but that's not what this is as
[15:36]: you've seen
[15:37]: um
[15:38]: this is
[15:41]: it doesn't actually refer to the fish
[15:43]: but the original soup probably came from
[15:46]: the
[15:48]: german
[15:49]: word that means shank and it was made
[15:51]: from a beef shank
[15:53]: but the
[15:55]: fisher folk from the
[15:57]: highlands of scotland modified that to
[16:00]: use smoked
[16:02]: haddock
[16:03]: fin and hattie
[16:06]: so the regional ingredients that they
[16:08]: had so the smoke haddock and the leeks
[16:11]: um
[16:11]: so
[16:13]: that's where that name came from
[16:16]: um
[16:20]: so
[16:20]: she says this is more substantial than a
[16:22]: soup but not as thick as a chowder
[16:25]: i do think it is
[16:28]: as written
[16:30]: i would prefer it to be a little thicker
[16:33]: um
[16:34]: all of the pictures that i found online
[16:37]: afterwards i didn't see any before i
[16:39]: made this recipe because there's not one
[16:41]: included
[16:43]: in the book or at least not one that i
[16:45]: saw it's not right here with the recipe
[16:47]: um
[16:49]: they it looked much more like a chowder
[16:51]: a little bit thicker
[16:53]: and uh mine was pretty thin even after
[16:57]: uh blending all of those potatoes and
[16:59]: leeks up into the broth and milk um
[17:04]: so yeah i would i think i would like it
[17:06]: thicker
[17:07]: but i will say that the recipe that she
[17:10]: has on her outlander kitchen website
[17:12]: which i will include in a link down
[17:14]: below
[17:15]: um
[17:16]: is a bit different includes
[17:20]: about the same amount of potato
[17:23]: slightly less leak slightly less fish
[17:27]: and a lot less of the
[17:30]: liquid ingredients so that seems like it
[17:33]: might make a thicker soup
[17:35]: there and be a little bit more like a
[17:37]: chowder
[17:39]: so i think i would prefer that
[17:42]: the
[17:44]: fish that i got was a
[17:48]: was definitely not haddock i don't know
[17:50]: exactly what kind of white fish it was
[17:52]: but it was not haddock and it was one
[17:54]: that did not flake
[17:56]: as large as i think haddock would so
[17:60]: it's kind of a finer flake fish so mine
[18:02]: were pretty small whereas the pictures
[18:04]: that i've seen um
[18:06]: online now
[18:07]: of of this soup is
[18:11]: have like larger flakes of fish and i
[18:13]: there's no way i could have gotten
[18:15]: larger flakes from the fish that i had
[18:19]: but i think the flavor was probably much
[18:21]: the same the smoky
[18:23]: fish flavor
[18:24]: um
[18:26]: would overpower any sort of
[18:30]: small differences that you would get
[18:31]: from different kinds of white fish
[18:35]: at least as far as i
[18:37]: can imagine
[18:39]: right
[18:40]: because it was mostly a smoky
[18:43]: flavor with a little bit of the fish
[18:45]: thrown in um
[18:47]: so i don't think it was made much of a
[18:49]: difference that i couldn't find smoked
[18:51]: haddock
[18:52]: uh so feel free to make that with any
[18:54]: sort of smoked white fish i don't think
[18:56]: it would be good it might be but i don't
[18:58]: think it would be as good with like
[18:59]: smoked salmon that was the only fish
[19:02]: smoked fish that i could find around
[19:03]: here
[19:04]: most places with smoked salmon but
[19:06]: that's readily available
[19:09]: um
[19:11]: so
[19:13]: i think the whole family enjoyed the
[19:15]: soup um
[19:18]: it was something that was had a pretty
[19:21]: strong
[19:22]: smoky flavor and it's something that i i
[19:26]: don't think i could eat a lot of but
[19:28]: it's a pretty light soup
[19:30]: as written
[19:31]: um
[19:32]: so
[19:35]: it's you know it's it's it was a good
[19:37]: soup it was certainly worth it i think
[19:38]: the next time i would make it
[19:41]: less
[19:43]: with less liquid
[19:44]: to be a little bit thicker
[19:49]: and
[19:50]: it does use my very favorite
[19:53]: kitchen appliance the immersion blender
[19:55]: so
[19:56]: and that worked out well and i did not
[19:58]: make a huge mess so that's great i like
[20:01]: it
[20:01]: partially because it is
[20:04]: both inexpensive compared to larger
[20:08]: blenders
[20:10]: and
[20:12]: it's easy to store
[20:14]: i put mine in a drawer and it's fine
[20:16]: and i can wash it in the dishwasher and
[20:18]: not take up basically the whole
[20:19]: dishwasher so
[20:21]: all of those are are good points for me
[20:24]: selling me on an immersion blender
[20:26]: so if you don't have one i would suggest
[20:28]: you get one
[20:30]: but you can
[20:32]: do this in a regular
[20:35]: blender
[20:36]: it'll just be more mess and hot and
[20:39]: difficult so
[20:41]: anyway if you enjoyed watching me make
[20:44]: this please give me a thumbs up hit the
[20:46]: subscribe button and come back and watch
[20:47]: me make something else next week