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Fish - and Shellfish

Scottish Cooking when a fish dinner, including ale and perhaps a dozen oysters, cost little more than one cigarette does now. As far back as the thirteenth century, salmon was so plentiful that it was pickled for export to London to be fed to the poor, and only a hundred years ago servants in big houses had contracts stipulating that it was to be served to them no more than three times a week.

Bless the fish for Peter’s sake,
He gruppit fish himsel’;
Bless the sheep for David’s sake,
He herdit sheep himsel’;
Bless the soo for Satan’s sake,
He was aince a soo himsel’.

File:Melanogrammus aeglefinus.jpg

The haddock has St Peters thumbprint on the skin - a dark blotch above the pectoral fin

Wha'll buy my caller herrin', they're no' brought here wi'oot brave darin'
Buy my caller herrin', ye little ken their worth

Finnan Haddie
Named after Findon, Scotland, a fishing village near Aberdeen, finnan haddie ( haddock ) is partially boned, lightly salted and smoked haddock. It was originally smoked over peat fires, a rarity now in wide commercial production. In Scotland, finnan haddie has long been a favourite breakfast dish. It's available whole or in fillets and can be refrigerated, tightly wrapped, for up to a month. Finnan haddie is best baked, broiled or poached. It's generally served with a cream sauce.

Finnan Haddock with Cheese

1 teacupful cooked finnan haddock
2 oz. grated cheese
1 egg
1 oz. butter
1 tablespoon milk
pepper, salt & mustard
a few rounds buttered toast

Free the haddock from bones. Melt the butter, and add fish, cheese, egg, milk and seasonings. Stir over the fire till hot, and serve on buttered toast.

Haddock Scramble
One pound of smoked haddock
8 eggs
salt and pepper
2 oz. butter
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon Worcester sauce
8 slices toast and butter

Poach the smoked haddock in milk for 15—20 minutes.
Drain and flake. Beat the eggs together and season well.
Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the milk and beaten
eggs and cook over a low heat until the eggs are
scrambled. Stir in the cooked flaked fish and the

Herring in Oatmeal
Combining two items which formed a staple of Scottish diet over many centuries, herring coated in oatmeal is a tasty, nourishing dish.

Allow 2 herrings per person 
Coarse oatmeal 
Salt and pepper 
Dripping or cooking oil

Depending on how your fishmonger supplies the herring, you may have to remove the bones yourself - cut along the underside of the herring, lay it on a table, cut side down and hit across the backbone in a few places with a rolling pin or your hand. Remove the backbone and as many of the smaller bones as possible. Scrape the scales from the fish with a knife, remove heads and tails. 
Sprinkle with salt and pepper and either toss them in a plastic bag with plenty of oatmeal or put the fish on a plate and coat them with oatmeal - you may have to press the oatmeal into the fish to ensure it is fully covered. Fry in meat dripping or cooking oil - put them in with the skin side upwards first. Fry until lightly brown, turn and cook the other side. It should take 5/7 minutes.
Drain the fish on kitchen paper (paper towels). 

Herring in Oatmeal 2

4 Herrings, cleaned and boned, with heads and tails removed
Scottish Oatmeal
100g Butter, melted
Vegetable oil for frying
1 lemon, juiced
Salt and Pepper

Dip the herrings in the melted butter, season with salt and pepper and then coat in the oatmeal. Heat a little oil in the frying pan, place the fillets in the pan flesh side down, and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until tender. Once the fish is cooked, remove from the pan and add the lemon juice to the remaining butter, mix together and spoon the juice over the herring.

Herring Stuffed with Oatmeal

8 herrings
175g (6oz) Scottish Oatmeal
25g (1oz) chopped Suet
25g (1oz) grated onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs
1 egg, beaten
50g (2oz) butter
Salt and Pepper

Clean, bone and filet the herrings. Mix together the oatmeal, suet, onions and herbs, and bind the stuffing with milk. Sprinkle the fillets with salt and pepper. Spread the stuffing over the fillets and roll up, securing them with wooden cocktail sticks. Lay the herrings in a buttered ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with some oatmeal, brush with beaten egg and dot with butter. Bake in a medium oven for about 20 minutes. Serve with lemon.

Herring with Drambuie Butter
Herring in oatmeal is a classic Scottish dish. In more modern times, chefs have added their own touches to the basic dish. Drambuie Butter is one way of adding to the flavours. 

Allow two herrings per person 
4 oz unsalted butter (one stick) 
2 teaspoons lemon juice 
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley 
3 tablespoons Drambuie liqueur

Prepare the herring as per the 
Herring in Oatmeal after you have prepared the Drambuie Butter (below).

To make the Drambuie Butter, simply soften the butter but don't melt it. Beat in the other ingredients and then roll out into a cylinder shape witha diameter of about one inch. Wrap in foil/greaseproof paper/vegetable parchment/waxed paper and leave in the refridgerator to harden again. Cut into slices and place two on each fish immediately before serving the cooked herrings. Add garnish of cress or lemon according to preference. 
Any leftover butter can be put on a tray and frozen and stored in small freezer bags. But don't keep them for more than one week.

The delights of a meal of herrings and potatoes when cooked in the traditional Shetland manner, in a kail-pot over the open fire, with the herrings laid over the potatoes. Nutritionally, too, this is a meal which could scarcely be bettered.

'Buckie' Soup
Scotland is full of Buckies (winkles) which are easily gathered from rocks at at low tide. They can be cooked in a pot of fresh water on the beach and eaten in the English manner with a pin, or, far better, they can be made into soup with the addition of fish stock or milk and water, and oatmeal, much in the same way as the cockles or mussels.

But they still have to be extracted with a pin, and the water they are first boiled in needs careful straining before it is added to the other stock as it is apt to be gritty. Be sure not to add any salt to either stock or water. In Buckie soup the oatmeal should not be knotted, but rained smoothly and steadily, a little at a time from the left hand into the boiling stock, while stirring continuously with a wooden spoon in the right hand. The object is to get the consistency of a thin gruel, which is then cooked for about twenty minutes before the cooked winkles are added, after which you allow it to stand for ten minutes longer before you eat it.

Bay of Nigg nr Torry was a good source for Buckies and we filled message bags with them to take home for feasting - as ever we over indulged and got sick of em. They were boiled and cooled before being put in a paper twist before we delved into them with a safety pin out of doors,  The Black Closure 'Scurrel' was flicked off and the Gastropod winkled from its spiral - grit an all - and chewed then swallowed - the empty shell could be placed between the first and index fingers at the knuckle to make a shrill whistle when blown hard across the aperture which would 'fair mak ye deef'

Bay of Nigg Buckies - Ye'll nivver stairve - The meat is high in Protein and low in Fat.  Avoid harvesting these near sewage outlets.

Devilled Scallops

300 ml (10 fluid ounces ) milk.
225 qrams ( 8 ounces ) scallops, fresh or defrosted.
25 grams ( 1 ounce ) margarine.
25grams ( 1 ounce ) flour.
1 tbs onion, chopped finely.
2 tbs natural yoghurt.
10 ml (2 tsp) Worcestershire sauce.
1 tsp wholegrain mustard.
I tbs fresh parsley. chopped.
Pinch of cayenne pepper.
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste.
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped.
2 tbs fresh Parmesan cheese, grated.
To Garnish: cayenne pepper.

1 Pre-heat oven to 400 deg. F., 200 deg. C., Gas Mark 6.
2 Place milk and scallops into an ovenproof pan. Poach gently for about 3 minuteS. Strain and reserve cooking
liquid. Set scallops to one side.
3 Melt margarine in a pan, stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Gradually add reserved cooking liquor and stir over a gentle heat until sauce thickens.
4 Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients except the Parmesan cheese.

Finally fold in the scallops. 5 Dust with Parmesan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.
Garnish with cayenne pepper before serving. If preferred can be served in individual ramekins.Serves 4.

Doric Parton Crab Parton is Gaelic for Crab
We used to hunt for crabs in the rock pools and under Boulders on the beaches - it was fun to inspect their purses for eggs - if present they were returned to their habitat.  They could gie ye a fair nip wi' yon cla's

Parton Pie.
Boil two partons for half an hour; when perfectly cold, break the large claws and pick the meat out of them, also the meat out of the body, and the red roe; beat them in a mortar with four ounces of sweet butter, a few breadcrumbs, 2 dozen stewed oysters, with some of the liquor, and a glass of white wine. Then wash the back shell clean, and put a paste collar round the edges of it; fill it with the meat, and stick bits of butter on the top. Bake it half an hour.

Parton Bree (Soup) 
Bree is the scottish word the for the liquid which food has been cooked in.  So parton bree translated means crab soup, it is most delicious.

1 large cooked crab
2oz/50g basmati rice
1 pint/600mlmilk
1 pint/600ml liquor from boiling the crab or water
¼ pint/125ml single cream
Finely chopped chives
1 Remove all the meat from the crab (keep the claw meat separate).
2 Cook the rice in a pan with the milk and water until tender.
3 Place the rice and the brown body meat from the crab into a sieve placed over a large saucepan.
4 Push all of the ingredients through the sieve with the back of a spoon.
5 Add the white meat and cream to the saucepan.
6 Heat the contents of the pan.
7 Taste to check for seasoning, add salt and pepper to taste.
8 If the partan bree is too thick, you can add some more milk if required.
Serve garnished with fresh, green, finely chopped chives.

inset - Partons placed in Barrels at Portsoy

Cooking Crab
How to Dress Crab
Crab Dressing Video
Female (Hen) crab's roe is composed of her eggs, a male (Cock) crab's roe is his sperm. This is why male and female roe have different taste and consistency.  Crab sticks are not crab.

Not Too Fishy Pie
Serves 2

2 fillets Smoked Haddock
10mls Lemon Juice
2 Potatoes for baking
1 Onion
2 Leeks
120g Mushrooms
2 Red Peppers
200g Broccoli
2 x 10ml spoons oil

Cheese Sauce

50g Plain Flour
2.5ml Mustard
Pinch Salt and Pepper
50g Sunflower Margarine
½ pint Semi Skimmed Milk, and juices drained from vegetables
100g Low Fat Cheddar (keep some back for topping)

Crumble Topping

100g Wholemeal Flour
60g  Scottish Oatmeal
50g Sunflower Margarine
Pinch of Salt and Pepper


1. Place fish on a microwaveable plate, add lemon juice, cover with cling film and microwave on high for 1 minute. Flake when cool.

2. Scrub potatoes, prick all over and microwave for 6-8 minutes, or until cooked. Cut into slices.

3. Prepare vegetables - wash and slice leeks, peppers, mushrooms and peel and finely chop onion. Place in a microwaveable dish with the oil. Cook on high for 3 minutes. Drain vegetables and add the liquid to the milk.

4. To make cheese sauce - melt margarine for 1 minute, add the flour, mustard, salt and pepper. Add the milk mixture and cook on high for 5 minutes, whisking every 2 minutes. When thick, stir in most of the cheese.

5. Wash broccoli and place in a microwaveable container with 2 x 15ml spoons of water. Cook for 2 minutes.

6. Make crumble topping by rubbing margarine into flour, oatmeal, salt and pepper. Stir in the rest of the cheese.

7. Assemble pie by putting a layer of vegetables at the bottom, topped with the flaked fish, then the sliced potato, pour on the cheese sauce and finally top with the crumble topping.

8. Cook on combination 1 medium for 8-10 minutes. Garnish with the cooked broccoli.

Scallops rolled in Ayrshire bacon, with black pudding and a creamed leek sauce.
Pan Fried Scallops in Bacon
Cook the scallops wrapped in bacon in oil in a hot pan, add a bit of sea salt and some cracked black pepper.
In another pan, cook the finely diced leeks, again adding salt and pepper. Add a white wine and cream reduction, then turn the heat down a little.
Turn the scallops to get colour on all sides, add some white wine to stop them burning they only need one or two minutes each side and add the slice of black pudding to the pan.
Serve on a plate with the black pudding in the centre and the scallops balanced on top. Pour the creamed leeks round the edge, then finish it off with a lemon wedge and a little bit of dill.

A very simple recipe for scallops, which really brings out the subtle flavour of this delicious shellfish.

King scallops, shucked and cleaned
Salt & black pepper
85g softened butter
2 tablespoons (30ml) fresh chopped basil
Juice and rind of 1 lime

Preheat the grill.
Remove the coral or roe from each scallop and set aside. Slice the scallop in half and set aside.
In a small bowl mix the butter, basil and lime together and set aside.
Spread 40g of the flavoured butter onto a grill pan. Add the scallops to the grill pan 5cm apart.
Dot with the remaining butter and cook for 3-4 minutes, turning occasionally. Transfer to a serving dish.
Spoon the juices from the pan over the scallops and serve with sliced new potatoes and salad leaves tossed in a little vinaigrette dressing.

Skye Smokehouse

Whisky-Mac Prawns
Whisky with green ginger is known as "Whisky-Mac" and the same ingredients can add an extra sparkle to prawn cocktail! 

2 fluid ounces of blended Scotch whisky 
2 fluid ounces green ginger wine 
1 tablespoon of honey 
A 1-inch square of peeled fresh ginger, chopped finely 
2 ripe avocados 
8 ounces prawns 
Lettuce leaves, lemon slices and possibly a whole prawn, for garnish.

Mix the whisky, green ginger wine, honey, chopped ginger. Peel the avocados and remove the stone. Chop the avocados into bite-size pieces, place in a dish and soak them and the prawns in the whisky mixture for half-an-hour. Place lettuce leaves in six dishes and add the prawn mixture. Finish with a slice of lemon and a whole prawn (if you have one).

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Last modified: 01/09/2013