Thanks to anomalously warm temperatures in the Gulf of Maine, lobsters started showing up unusually early this year. Fishermen keep pulling in record harvests, and economics is wreaking supply-side havoc that’s led to a collapse in the wholesale purchase price of lobsters. So, what does this catastrophic climate change mean for me? Really cheap lobster. I know, #firstworldproblems.
Lobster rolls seem to be all the rage right now. I regularly pass a food truck in Union Square that hawks these, and I keep reading articles about “the City’s best lobster roll.”
But, I know we haven’t hit the lobster roll apex because there isn’t a Williamsburg store that sells mislabeled “artisanal” or “bespoke” rolls…yet.
There are two main styles of rolls: lobster tossed in mayonnaise or lobster drizzled in butter.
I think lobster is rich enough and doesn’t need hot butter poured all over bread (except when you are in Maine and then it is glorious). However, I do think if you are going to make a lobster roll, you should opt for homemade mayonnaise. I mean, you’ve gone through the trouble of buying an expensive sea-spider that you put face first into scalding water, ripped its appendages off, and pulled out its insides. The least you can do is give it something better than store-bought mayonnaise.
Purists will argue that simplicity is key to a quality lobster roll. I tend to agree and skip superfluous space-wasters like lettuce, tomato, and celery. Lightly toss the lobster in mayonnaise, pill high on a buttery, toasted bun, and garnish with a bit of fresh chives, a pinch of celery salt, and a squeeze of lemon.
Know this: Don’t rely only on the the bright red color of the lobster as a cue for doneness. Larger lobsters will turn bright red before they are finished cooking. While it best to rely on timing, a better visual cue than color is when the lobster floats to the top of the pot. Once it does, cook for a few minutes longer.
Classic Lobster Rolls
- 2 whole lobsters – 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds each
- 1-2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 hot dog rolls
- 2 tablespoons butter – room temperature
- Chopped fresh chives, for garnish
- Lemon, for garnish
- Celery salt, for garnish
Prepare a large ice-water bath. In a very large pot of boiling salted water, cook the lobsters until they float, about 12 minutes. Using tongs, plunge the lobsters into ice bath until cool enough to handle, about 2 minutes. Remove the lobsters, drain, and set aside.
Using your hands, twist off the lobster tails and claws and remove the meat. If you need help removing the meat, Chow has good step-by-step photos. Cut the lobster tail in half vertically and remove the intestinal vein that runs the length of each lobster tail. Dice the lobster meat into 1/2-inch pieces and pat dry.
Toss the lobster meat with mayonnaise and refrigerate until very cold, at least 1 hour.
Spread the butter on the inside of the buns. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Place the buns in the pan butter-side down and toast until golden brown.
Divide the lobster salad among the buns and garnish with fresh chives, a pinch of celery salt, and a squeeze of lemon.