The Underground Gourmet

Josh DeChellis on How to Cook With Your Christmas Tree

“Mommy, is that tree dead?”Photo: Le Royer
Everyone knows a good cook is a frugal cook, and no one takes this culinary code more seriously than Josh DeChellis, the skateboard-riding boy-wonder chef behind Sumile (recently tweaked and rechristened Sumile Sushi). In the spirit of the post-holiday season, DeChellis has come up with an idea that is not only environmentally responsible but also would make Euell Gibbons’s eyes goggle and his mouth water.

“I was helping my parents take down the Christmas tree and the perfume was amazing,” DeChellis says. “So I took a few branches off and roasted a piece of grilled beef over the needles in an aluminum-foil pouch and I loved it!” DeChellis was kind enough to pass along a similar pine-scented recipe, below, so that Grub Street readers can recycle any trees or wreaths they have lying around the house instead of just dragging them outside to the curb. DeChellis also has a suggestion for stale gingerbread cookies: “Grind them up and crust scallops with it. Serve with a sauce of brown butter, gingerbread powder, and milk blended in a blender with Brussels sprout leaves on the side.” Delish! — Rob Patronite & Robin Raisfeld

The recipe:

For the glaze:
1/2 teaspoon, crushed fresh juniper berries
1 two-inch piece of pine-tree branch, washed
6 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons Tamari Shoyu
1 tablespoon rice-wine vinegar

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan, reduce by half or until “sticky.” Strain and then cool.

For the anago:
1 cup white rice
2 tablespoons, sugar
1 cup, fresh pine needles
4 anago fillets (available at your local Japanese market; frozen is acceptable. Fresh trout is also a good substitute but needs to be grilled after smoking)

Line the bottom of a medium saucepan with aluminum foil. Add 1 cup rice and place over high heat. When the rice starts to brown, add 2 tablespoon sugar and 1 cup of pine needles. Once it starts to smoke, place a rack on top of it with the anago fillets. Turn heat to low and cover the pan. Let smoke for two minutes. Remove fillets from rack and paint with the glaze. Then set in broiler for approximately 1 minute or until the edges start to bubble slightly. Remove from heat and serve either as a handroll, as sushi topping, or simply over a bowl of steamed white rice donburi style.

Josh DeChellis on How to Cook With Your Christmas Tree