There are certain winter foods that I look forward to every year and which the Kinrowan kitchen serves just often enough that hardly anyone wearies of them. One such food is finnan haddie. It’s a traditional Scottish fish dish made with smoke cured haddock. It’s simple to use, usually at hand in the winter, and, I must say, tastes great in many dishes.
It’s haddock cured by smoking with unseasoned green wood and peat, originally from somewhere in northeast Scotland. Where it originated is uncertain, though many have claimed they knew where it came from. Some claim around about Aberdeen, others say it originated in the area of the River Findhorn in Moray. The former claim may be stronger as it has been a popular food there since at least the 1640s. The latter counter-claim maintains that the name is just a corrupted form of Findhorn.
Finnan haddie can be served many ways, say simply with onions and red peppers, or in Cullen skink, a soup, or chowder as New Englanders call it, made with finnan haddie plus potatoes and onions. Mrs. Ware, our cook, adds whole cream and grinds black pepper into it as it simmers. Many now consider this the true Scottish national dish instead of haggis. It certainly tastes better than haggis does!
It took another two centuries after it started showing up in Aberdeen (and I’m accepting their claim as it’s better documented) before it made its way down to London, as the lightly smoked fish rotted in just a few days, and less than one in the summer. The rail link from Aberdeen to London built in the 1840s made it possible to get it there without spoiling.