Crappit Heids is a savoury Scottish dish consisting of stuffed, simmered haddock heads.
The stuffing varies, though the common binder appears to be oatmeal. Occasionally, a small amount of milk is added in some recipes. A “meat” can be added, such as suet, fish roe, lobster, or chopped haddock lives. Other possible additions are chopped onion, and salt and ground pepper for flavouring.
The stuffing is put into the fish heads, which are then simmered in a liquid, either water or a fish stock. Modern cooking times given are 30 to 60 minutes. Older accounts talk of “boiling” for 2 to 3 hours, though the boiling was almost certainly simmering.
An older account, shown below, has the oil being extracted from the haddock livers first by cooking them (the oil presumably then being used for other purposes), and the cooked livers (referred to as “crackings” in the account) added to the stuffing.
Literature & Lore
“But he never came back–though I expected him sae faithfully, that I gae a look to making the friar’s chicken mysell, and to the crappit-heads too, and that’s what I dinna do for ordinary, Mr. Glossin” — Mrs. Mac-Candlish in Guy Mannering by Sir Walter Scott, Chapter XXXII.
“The haddocks were cleaned, split open, and put into a tub with salt for a few hours. The oil being extracted from the livers in the frying pan, the browned cracklings were mixed with oatmeal, shred onions and pepper into a dough; with this the haddock-heads were stuffed, boiled for two or three hours, and then we had “crappit heads” — a dish which no epicure need despise. I don’t think that in after life I ever supped so satisfactorily as I have done on the “haddock heads” of long, long ago.” — Attributed to “A contributor to the Scotsman.” Column entitled “Recollections of Christmas or Yule in the North of Scotland Sixty Years Ago. Reprinted in Timaru Herald, Timaru, New Zeland, Volume XI, Issue 2961, 20 March 1884, Page 3
“Crappit” means “haddock”; “heids” means “heads.”