Partan Bree, Grampian
Some time ago I read a complaint that Britain has few if any recipes for fish soups. But Scotland alone can contribute two classics: Cullen Skink and Partan Bree.
Partan Bree comes from Aberdeenshire, thanks to its fishing fleets, though it is now a national dish and has been for years. Definitely one that would be set down as traditional, it contains, however, a distinctly un-Scots ingredient, rice. That rice (for four people say 3oz) is cooked in milk (about a pint) (or milk and water), then rubbed through a sieve (or today put through a blender), with the brown meat from a cooked crab added, depending on which source you think most authentic, either before or after that blending. Chicken stock should be used (another pint), but the thrifty might prefer using the crab shell to make an alternative liquid. That stock is warmed with the blended rice and its liquid, then the white meat is added along with several big dollops of single cream, gently heated until a little below boiling point (a soup boiled is a soup spoiled and all that) and served.
You can fancy this up a bit if you want with Tabasco for some kick, thin slices of spring onion or chopped chives added at the table, some anchovy fillets or essence cooked with the rice, or even a drop of whisky (something light like Deanston), but the important thing is the taste of the crab so donít overdo it (likewise do not overcook it).
Oh yes: to explain the name. Partan is Gaelic for crab; and Bree (alternatively Brigh) is Scots for brew, i.e. in this case the liquid in which the crab is cooked. Another light, creamy and elegant dish that gives the lie to the idea Scottish cooking is all deep fried pies.
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