Cullan Stink, a densely ambient soup from the West Highlands, has been served as an appetizer in the small hamlet of Cullan since the 11th century. Robert Burns, an infrequent and not particularly keen visitor to the islands, happened upon the recipe during an ill-fated hunting trip in 1834. His classic diatribe against crofters, Stay In Yer Hoos, even makes a passing reference to the dish:
“…..raise up ye lasses, whene’er ye think,
Your’re asked to make more Cullan Stink.”
Massive overfishing during the 1970’s has placed the traditionally key ingredient (Highland pike) in desperately short supply. Nevertheless, the dish remains popular in local restaurants and hospitals.
1 large pike, de-boned (if unavailable, then haddock, cod or canned tuna can substitute)
2 large onions
2 pints of whole milk
2 pints of water (preferably sparkling)
1 pound mashed potato
Six slices of white bread
Salt and pepper
Half pound of butter
De-bone fish, dress it down, and set aside
Sautee onions until lightly browned. Peel and set aside.
Add water, milk, potato, bread, fish, butter and onions to a large pot.
Simmer on low, uncovered for around 4 hours – until vast majority of liquid has boiled off.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve immediately or within the next four hours.
Inner Cook Notes:
For a twist use a carbonated beverage such as Sprite or Seven Up instead of water. Adventurous chefs on the Isle of Skye have even used the classic Scottish drink Irn Bru.
With a consistency approaching mature porridge, and a stench of fish that even cats find disconcerting, the dish can be challenging to the uninitiated.
Most agree that with appropriate pacing and a stable mental attitude the recipe can produce a satisfying sense of inner warmth.
View this recipe as a PDF file here.