Cullen skink is a really simple dish to cook and can be made in a variety of different ways. I adore adding hake as main ingredient. Cullen skink can either be done very badly or exceptionally well. I think you either find awful smoked fish or absolutely wonderful smoked fish, and it’s obviously better to shop around for the latter.
· Prep the pumpkin into chunky wedges. You can also retain and dry, then roast the pumpkin seeds
· Roast the pumpkin wedges in the oven until golden and well caramelised. Retain some nice pieces to garnish, purée the remaining roasted pumpkin in a blender until smooth. Reserve until later
· Put vegetable stock in a pan to heat
· Sweat the diced shallot in a little olive oil until completely soft. Then add the pearl barley and 50g of butter and lightly ‘roast’ the grains in the butter, without adding any colour
· When the grains appear translucent on the outside begin adding the heated stock, one ladle at a time, whilst stirring very gently but continuously to avoid the grains sticking to the pan
· Continue ladling stock and cooking until the grains are almost cooked through. Then stir in a 50g of butter and some of the pumpkin purée to create a nice orange colour.
· When at the right consistency, remove from the heat and serve with roasted pumpkin seeds, the retained pumpkin pieces, chopped chives, crispy watercress leaves , a drizzle of olive oil and parmesan shavings.
Photography by Marc Millar