The Finnan haddock is a very emblematic and traditional Scottish method of fish smoking. It originates from northeastern Scotland, where its tradition can be traced back even further than the 18th century. There is indeed confusion about the accurate birth place of this tradition: Some say that the name Finnan derives from the small town of Findon in Aberdeenshire, while others claim that it should refer to the Findhorn town at the mouth of the Findhorn river.
The fish has to be salted and left to dry overnight. The particularity of the smoking process lies in the fact that the next day it is smoked over some soft ‘grey’ peat and green wood for eight to nine hours and then cooled and washed in warm, salted water.
The reputation of Finnan Haddock spread quickly and became a popular food, especially in London during the 18th century. The introduction of bad peat and softwood sawdust, which was influencing fish acridity lead to its unpopularity. After some years, it started to rebuild its celebrity-status and quality, however, with the help of modern cures using artificial dyes. There are still few small independent smokers who follow the traditional method. Mass produced cold smoked haddock are called golden cutlets, whereas a true Finnan Haddie is the split headless whole gutted fish ..a much rarer find.
The flavor of Finnan Haddock is lightly salted and delicately smoked. It can be enjoyed on many occasions. It can be served poached in milk for breakfast or it can be roasted or grilled over high heat for dinner. It is also an important ingredient of the Scottish fish soup, Cullen skink.