Cullen Skink recipe – Nick Nairn version

Cullen Skink - The Nick Nairn method



  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 100 g Chopped white vegetables – such as fennel and onion and the white parts of leek
  • 100 ml Dry white wine
  • 2 Arbroath Smokies Roughly chopped


  • 20 g Unsalted butter
  • 2 Banana Shallots finely chopped
  • 100 g Leek White only, finely chopped
  • 2 medium Garlic Cloves crushed then finely chopped
  • 200 g Ratte potatoes or similar waxy potatoes Boiled until tender then peeled
  • 2 Arbroath Smokies Skin and bones removed
  • 100 ml Whole Milk
  • 100 ml Double Cream
  • 1 pinch Ground black pepper


  • 1 Arbroath Smokie skin and bones removed
  • Chives Chopped
  1. Starting with the fish stock, heat the oil in a heavy saucepan, then stir in the vegetables making sure to coat them all in the oil. Cover and sweat over a low heat for about ten minutes making sure not to let them colour.
  2. Pour in the white wine and boil for one minute.
  3. Add 1.2 litres/2 pints of water and the smokies and bring near to the boil then simmer very gently for 20 minutes on a lower heat, then allow to cool.
  4. Once cold, strain the stock through a very fine sieve.
  5. On to 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.
  6. Add the cooked potatoes, flake the smokies into the pan then cover and sweat for a further two minutes
  7. Add 1 litre/1¾ pints 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.
  8. Pour the mixture into a blender and blend for a few seconds then add the milk and cream through the blender hole
  9. After some gentle reheating, flake the remaining smokie and service garnished with the chive.

Nick Nairn is a Scottish chef who became the youngest Scottish chef to win a Michelin star in the early 1990s.

He opened his first restaurant, Braeval near Aberfoyle, in 1986 and won a Michelin star in 1991 and went on to open Nairns restaurant in Glasgow in 1998 and a cook school in 2000 at Lake of Menteith.  

In 2008 he defeated Tom Lewis in the Scottish heat of the BBC television series Great British Menu. He went on to cook a main course of roe venison for Queen Elizabeth II and 250 guests at the Mansion House for her official 80th birthday celebration.

This recipe first appeared on the BBC Food website.