A list of Do’s and Don’ts for making perfect lobster rolls every time
The best lobster roll you’ll ever eat can be made no matter where you are in the world; follow these seven tips and tricks and you can successfully make these no matter how far you are from the coast of Maine.
It goes without saying that the best place to enjoy a lobster roll, without a doubt, is down at a seafood shack on the New England coast. I am talking about the sort of place where you may have the pleasure of rubbing elbows with some lobster fishermen who just caught the crustaceans you are eating that morning.
The great news is that even if you don’t live within shouting distance of the Maine or Massachusetts water, there’s no reason to doom your hopes. There are a lot of restaurants out there that have gotten on the lobster roll bandwagon and serve passable, but overly chef-ified versions of the summer seasonal classic. As an alternative, if you’re willing to take matters into your own hands, you can make your own, right down to the toasted bun, at home, if you so desire.
Before attempting to make a homemade lobster roll, there are a few things you should know. I believe that there is an art to any great sandwich, as there is an art to finding that fine balance between the filling and the bread. This article will provide you with a guide to the do’s and don’ts of making a lobster roll from scratch.
The lobster is the star of the show when it comes to lobster rolls. The rest of the ingredients are secondary to that. It may sound obvious, but the scores of not very good rolls in existence are testament as to how easy it is to lose sight of this fact. It is important to begin with live lobsters, kicking and crawling, if you would like to get the best tasting, sweetest, and plumpest meat possible.
It’s a common occurrence for precooked lobster from the store to get rubbery and tough after being precooked and frozen. It is true that the task of slaughtering, steaming, and breaking down a whole crustacean may seem like a lot of work for one little sandwich, but the results are very rewarding. Here is a great video and written guide showing how to properly cook a lobster.
After you’ve picked out the meat from the shell, it should be a piece of cake, right? Certainly not—one of the worst mistakes you can make is turning your lobster into mushy, minced meat salad with teeny tiny pieces of lobster. It’s best to keep it extra chunky, with very coarsely chopped meat, which is not too large so that it’s painful to chew, but still big enough so that you can appreciate all the tenderness of each morsel when you bite into it. The tail, claws, and knuckles are the only parts of the animal that you will be able to use. The heads, smaller walking legs, and the shells from the leftover shellfish should be saved for making lobster stock.
The thought of consuming a ginger-bacon-wasabi lobster roll will surely cause a groan in any true seafarer. There is nothing simpler than doing it right with the classic Connecticut-style roll: butter, herbs, and salt and pepper to season as desired. And that’s it!
To substitute for the butter-dressed roll, the only acceptable alternative is a New England-style one with only a tiny bit of mayo and a sprinkle of finely diced celery. Seriously, a teeny amount of mayonnaise and a sprinkle of celery. As an added bonus, the celery offers just the right amount of crunch to balance out the mayo and keep the sandwich/roll from becoming a mess. Forget about those flavored mayos, use the good old-fashioned plain variety if you want to impress.
There are many people, and even chefs, who insist that a good lobster roll must be served on a top-split white bread bun with a flat top, the kind that looks like a hot dog bun. No, we will not go so far as to suggest that, but it is important to make sure that the bread you are using is liberally buttered and lightly toasted regardless of what type of bread you use. The flavor from the gently browned crust complements the flavor of the meat inside perfectly.
When you choose the bread with which you have decided to wrap all that precious meat. You may not have to use a top-split roll, but there should be some ground rules to follow. You want it to be substantial enough so that it’s not liable to collapse under the weight of your fillings, but not so crusty or hefty that it will take all of your attention away from the contents.
In other words, this is not the time for you to break out the seeds and nuts encrusted, fifteen-grain bread recipe – anything too strongly flavored will probably serve only as a distraction.
It’s true, lobster rolls may look simple and rustic, but at the same time, they are one of the most decadent foods you can consume. What could be better than mouthwateringly sweet and succulent chunks of lobster slathered in butter/mayo and tucked into a buttery bun? Man that’s just freaking delicious. The reason they almost always come with a pickle and some chips (preferably salt and vinegar or something similar) is to help cut through all of the fat and provide a bit of palate-clearing relief between bites. You will need to pick up a few jars of dill spears as well as some crispy potatoes while you are out shopping for those clawed friends that you will bring home with you. But you can also make them yourself.