I would be hard-pressed to think of any recipe I make on a regular basis that causes so much dissent and controversy as the lobster roll. For such a seemingly simple dish, merely mentioning it always provokes incredibly heated debate. Odd, really, as at heart, this New England favorite is just lobster meat in a bun, isn’t it?
Well, apparently not. Every person I ask seems to have a different opinion as to what makes the perfect version. According to some folk, you definitely should use cold lobster with mayonnaise, while according to others, mayonnaise is the devil’s sputum, and you must only toss your warm lobster lightly in melted butter before serving.
You definitely should or you definitely shouldn’t add celery, depending who you talk to, and depending in which part of the East Coast you find yourself, mentioning the addition of herbs could get you a hug or a slap across the chops. The only thing most people can bring themselves to agree on is that it should be served in a New England-style hot dog bun. Although, even then, I am told, there are places where they prefer to serve it between slices of white bread instead.
The dish has its origins in the early part of the 20th Century, when the dainty lobster salads prepared for the wealthy women of Maine began to be served on the first commercially prepared hot dog buns. The portable, high-protein snack became an instant success and became hugely popular throughout New England, although differing opinions on how to prepare them apparently started soon after and rage on to this day.
Discussing the lobster roll can be a bit of a culinary minefield. The truth is, whichever way you choose to make yours, you are going to offend someone. So you may as well make it whichever way pleases you (as I have below), and, as long as you use great ingredients, the end result will be the most gloriously indulgent sandwich you can imagine.
Lobster roll recipe
Ingredients (serves two)
1 lb cooked lobster meat (I used one lobster tail per person.)
2 hot dog buns
1 stick celery (finely diced)
¼ cup mayonnaise (I make my own, but a good store-bought version will be fine.)
¼ cup chopped fresh dill (You could also use tarragon.)
1 twist black pepper
1 pinch salt
Lemon wedges for serving
1. Place the lobster tails in boiling, salted water until the shells turn from grey to pink, which indicates they are cooked. This usually takes around 10 minutes.
2. Remove the meat from the shells by cutting the shells lengthwise with a pair of sharp kitchen scissors. The shell should then peel easily from the lobster meat.
3. Cut the meat into ¼ inch chunks and allow to cool.
4. While the lobster is cooling, split the hot dog buns and spread thinly with butter, both on the outside and inside.
5. Heat a large frying pan and toast the buttered buns on each side.
6. Mix the mayonnaise with the dill.
7. In a large bowl, combine the lobster meat, the dill mayonnaise and the celery.
8. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
9. Pile high on the toasted hot dog buns and serve with lemon wedges.
As an alternative to mayonnaise and celery, you can simply toss the lobster meat, while still warm, in melted butter, season and then serve in the toasted buns.
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