For months now I’ve been reading and hearing about the ubiquitous lobster roll–in Bon Appetit and Cook’s Illustrated magazines, and on TV shows like the Cooking Channel’s Eat Street. I must admit I’ve only eaten lobster on a cruise ship vacation; it is not something I can often afford. Plus, I live in the South and have always associated the lobster roll with Maine and seaside towns like Portland, Oregon. The concept of pairing lofty lobster with the all-American lowly hot dog bun, well, that’s just not something you see every day. So, over the weekend I sequestered myself in the kitchen and set out to make this mystery. I may be in Georgia, but with one bite, I was at a seaside shack on the upper East coast, toes in the sand.
With a little help from the July & August edition of Cook’s Illustrated, the recipe was actually very simple. The most difficult part is getting the meat out of the lobster tail, but no worries. I’ll share a tip that makes it easy. I purchased two lobster tails for $18.95 from Ellis’ Meat Market here in Statesboro, then cooked them for 12 minutes in boiling salted water.
Meanwhile, I toasted two good ol’ Sunbeam white bread hot dog buns in butter and seasoned them with salt and pepper on each side. They didn’t know what to think.
I managed to get all my ingredients locally, which can never hurt. I picked up some lemons, green onions and celery from L&D Produce. Chop about two tablespoons of celery and a teaspoon of the onion. A little onion goes a long way, it shouldn’t overpower the lobster.
Once the lobster is finished cooking (you’ll know when a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the tail registers 175 degrees), drain and let it cool. Be sure to take them out of the hot water. I forgot to do this and nearly burned myself cracking the shell because I was so excited to get to the meat. There is more than one way to skin a cat, but to keep the tail meat in one piece, Cook’s Illustrated recommends removing the meat by turning the lobster on its side, and pressing down with both hands until the shell cracks. Then, with the flippers facing you and shell facing down–thumbs on opposite sides–pull back to crack the shell and remove the meat. Works like magic. See? Dice lobster into 1/2 inch chunks.
Next, mix two tablespoons of mayo with a pinch of cayenne pepper, salt and pepper, and a splash of lemon juice. Toss in the green onion and celery. Mix well and add lobster meat. Toss to coat.
And now for the assembly. I used a lettuce trio including green leaf, iceberg and radicchio. Line the hot dog buns with lettuce. Then spoon lobster salad into the buns, until it’s spilling out and looking irresistible. Finish with a drizzle of melted butter and a final sprinkle of salt and pepper.
The lobster roll is really the perfect, down home dinner party food around. It’s so approachable and unpretentious. That is of course, if everyone brings their own lobster. Ha! Serve it with potato chips or fries, whatever suits your fancy.
The crunch of that toasted bun with the creaminess of the lobster salad is something to write home about. The lemon juice really brightens the flavor.
Bon Appetit contributor Michael Paterniti says, “For me, the lobster roll is more than just culinary transcendence or proof that simple food made simply is the most soul-satisfying of all. It is summer itself, the baptismal rite after winter and mud season, a diary of days.” That sums it up.
Here’s a quick reference of everything you’ll need.
Lobster Roll Ingredients:
- 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise (Preferably Dukes)
- 2 tablespoons of minced celery
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of minced chives or green onions
- Salt & Pepper
- A pinch of Cayenne Pepper
- 2 Cooked Lobster Tails, Chopped
- Unsalted butter
- Green leaf lettuce
- Hot dog buns
Have you ever eaten or made a lobster roll?