Five of the best traditional Scottish fish dishes

Fancy a fish dish? Thanks to more than 6,000 miles of coastline and a long and rich history of fishing industry, Scotland has an abundance of traditional seafood recipes. Here are five of the best.

Published 12th Oct 2015
Updated 8 th Aug 2023

It's national seafood week so to celebrate we've selected some of our favourite traditional Scottish seafood dishes for you:

Cullen Skink

Comforting and creamy yet full-flavoured, Cullen Skink is a soup of smoked haddock, potatoes and onions. Traditionally made with water, but now arguably enhanced by the addition of milk or cream, the soup originated in the town of Cullen in Moray (where haddock abound), with the word “skink” originally meaning “shin of beef” in Scots and then coming to mean soup or stew. Although you might only have tasted Cullen Skink as the starter at a black tie do, in the north-east it remains a filling, tasty and simple everyday staple.

Finnan Haddie
The main ingredient for Cullen Skink, Finnan Haddie is cold-smoked haddock, traditionally smoked with green wood and peat to give a surprisingly delicate flavour. Although its precise provenance is disputed – the word Finnan could be a corruption of either Findon, a village in Aberdeenshire, or Findhorn in Moray – it has been eaten in the north-east since at least the seventeenth century. Usually roasted or grilled with butter, Finnan Haddie can also be served creamed, or poached in milk for breakfast.

Partan Bree is another north east speciality. Picture: Wiki Commons

Partan Bree is another north east speciality. Picture: Wiki Commons

Partan Bree
Another soup and another north-east speciality, Partan Bree – with “partan” being Gaelic and Scots for crab and “bree” a Scots term for soup (literal translation: brew) – combines crustaceans with rice and milk or cream. Given that rice isn't grown in Scotland, the recipe most likely dates to the period in which it first became available – around the latter half of the 18th century when trade, mainly through the East India Company, meant rice was readily available. The Scots in turn took the recipe with them when they settled in the United States, and it became crab bisque.

Arbroath Toasties
Another fish and egg combo, Arbroath Toasties combine the internationally famed local delicacy Arbroath Smokies (smoked haddock – what else?) poached in milk with flour, egg and grated cheese, with the resulting mixture then served on toast. A Scottish equivalent to Welsh Rarebit, this dish is usually eaten as either breakfast or a light supper.

Kedgeree - more Scottish than you might think. Picture: Flickr/CC

Kedgeree - more Scottish than you might think. Picture: Flickr/CC

We know what you're thinking: Kedgeree comes from India, right? Right. But the brave souls who decided adding smoked fish into the mix with rice, hard-boiled eggs, butter and curry spices was a good idea? A regiment of Scottish soldiers serving there in the days of the British Raj - or so legend has it. Fully embraced back home in Victorian Britain, where Anglo-Indian food was something of a fad, Kedgeree is traditionally eaten as a breakfast to build empires on. During the Second World War, the dish was included in a rationing cookbook – with smoked fish in short supply, the recipe suggested using devilled kidneys instead.

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