Lobster rolls are this summer’s slider—the food of the moment, the dish on every trendy menu. And why not? This purely American invention has a contradictory character; it tastes like freedom, like summer on a plate, and at the same time it is the most luxurious sandwich ever invented.
Since lobster rolls are mostly made ahead, they’re perfect party food. If your friends have been eating them out, they’ll be thrilled that the one you serve them can be so much better, if you consider these tips.
1. Begin with live female lobsters. Pre-picked lobster meat is often over-cooked and usually contains too much slippery claw meat and too little of the tastier tail. Why female? Because they’re sweeter, and because you want the roe. How do you tell if a lobster is female? Look at the swimmerets on the bottom of the tail; on a female the first pair of swimmerets (the ones closest to the head), are soft because this is where she carries her eggs. On the male this pair is hard and bony.
2. Make your own mayonnaise, don’t use too much, and stir in all of the roe and the tomalley. This will give you a huge jolt of flavor.
3. Do not add too many other ingredients; I like a little celery for crunch, a tiny bit of chopped red onion, and the zing of lemon juice. But if you want the taste of the lobster to come singing through, you need nothing more.
4. Use Pepperidge Farm hot dog rolls, the kind that are split at the top, and toast them in a pan with sweet butter. They crisp up and stay soft, almost chewy inside.
5. Serve your masterpiece while the bun is still crisp, hot and buttery; it’s a wonderful contrast between that and the cool lobster salad.
6. Serve with good potato chips. It’s traditional!
2 lobsters, 1¼ pounds each.
3-4 tablespoons homemade mayonnaise (more if you prefer, but I like my rolls to be mostly lobster)
2 teaspoons finely chopped red onion
½ rib celery, chopped
A few drops of lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Pepperidge Farm top-split hot dog buns
Cook, chill, and shell the lobsters: Bring a large pot of heavily-salted water to a boil over high heat. Submerge the lobsters and cook for 10 minutes, then place the lobsters at once in ice water to stop the cooking. Drain well. Remove all the meat from the lobster and chop into ½-inch pieces, reserving the tomalley and the roe in a small bowl.
Dress the lobster: Stir the tomalley and roe into the mayonnaise, and dress the lobster meat with it. Add celery, onion, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Store in the refrigerator (it will last 2 days).
Butter and crisp buns: Just before serving, melt a pat of butter in a small saute pan over medium heat and toast the hot dog buns on one side. When they’re golden, remove them. Add the second pat of butter and toast the buns on the other side. Spoon the lobster salad into the buns and serve immediately.
This is more than you need. But it keeps for at least a week, and there’s something wonderful about knowing you have homemade mayonnaise on hand for sandwiches, tartar sauce and dressings.
Makes 2 cups
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar
1 teaspoon mustard
Pinch of salt
About 2 cups oil, at room temperature (not cold)
Crank the food processor: Put everything but the oil into a food processor and process until creamy, about 15 seconds. With the machine still running, slowly pour the oil into the machine until your mayonnaise is the consistency that you want.