Chef Beau Schooler got his first batch of this season's Sitka spruce tips earlier this week for his Juneau restaurants. Schooler said the tips are easy to work with and versatile. That lends them to a variety of different applications, he said, from savory to sweet dishes.
Schooler said he'll be tinkering with them all week. On Friday he said he was in the midst of making spruce-tip marshmallows.
Schooler has no preference when it comes to a specific type of spruce tip to use. He said this pickle could serve as the base of a tartar sauce or be served as-is with battered halibut or cod or alongside crab cakes.
3 cups diced cucumber, about 2 cucumbers
2 cups spruce tips
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
2/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs of dill
1 tablespoon celery seed
1 tablespoon mustard seed
2 garlic cloves, peeled and slightly crushed
Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Roughly chop them and toss with a pinch of salt. Set cucumbers in a colander and drain excess water for 30 minutes.
After the cucumbers have drained, mince them with the spruce tips using either a knife or food processor. The size of the chopped pieces will affect the texture of the finished product. For a bit of crunch leave the pieces larger, for a soft relish mince them really fine. Place in a medium size bowl and set aside.
Place the rest of the ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil to until the sugar and salt dissolves. Once dissolved, pour the hot brine over the cucumber and spruce tip mixture. Cover with a small plate to keep everything submerged. Allow to cool to room temperature. Then cover and place in the refrigerator overnight before serving.
From Beau Schooler, chef and co-owner of The Rookery, In Bocco al Lupo, Panhandle Provisions and The Taqueria