Monday, April 11, 2011
I was born and raised in Massachusetts. Western Mass, not anywhere near the shore. So I say "lobster" not "lahbstah". My mom loved the beach and every summer we'd go camp somewhere near a beach. For a few years it was Ocean City, NJ. For a while it was York Beach, ME. I have a brother who lives on Cape Cod and we'd visit him. But one thing that stands out to me no matter where we went is a visit to a clam shack and the one thing that means is (no, not clams)... a lobster roll.
It's been years since I've had a true New England lobster roll. In fact, I haven't even thought about them. When I was pregnant with my son, for about two weeks I was craving a clam boat, but it passed without fulfillment. When I got this month's issue of Bon Appétit and saw their page on lobster rolls, my mind raced back to the salty smell in the air, the hot sand and the sound of crashing waves. But more importantly to the taste of cold lobster cradled by a hot buttered hot dog bun. I wanted it. Now.
As I gathered all of my mis en place, it occurred to me that I'd never made one. And how simple they are. Until I hit a snag. A true lobster roll is served in a New England style hot dog bun. It never dawned on me that we don't have them down here in the South until I ran to Kroger to just "pick them up". Just like that. I'd peruse the bread aisle and get my J.J. Nissen's. I panicked when I could only find regulation picnic style hot dog buns. A lobster roll is not a lobster roll without the grilled buttered bun!
Well, it IS a lobster roll, so that's what I did. I rolled with the punches. I very carefully cut the sides off my hot dog buns to grill them. Bon Appétit says you don't have to do this and you can open up your rolls and carefully grill the insides, but that's not the same to me.
Next time, I'll plan ahead a little more and maybe someone who loves me in the northeast will take pity on my poor transplanted palate and mail me some hot dog buns! Otherwise, on my next trip I'll have to bring a few packages home for my freezer.
adapted from Bon Appétit, April 2011
Bon Appétit suggested making your own mayonnaise with a combo of egg yolks, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and dijon mustard. I did not do this and instead made a mixture of mayo, lemon juice and dijon to dress the lobster rolls.
1 large onion, halved
2 celery stalks
6 fresh thyme sprigs
2 tablespoons course sea salt
2 two-pound live lobsters
4 New England style hot dog buns (top split) or regular hot dog buns
6 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup bib lettuce
1 thinly sliced scallion
Fill a very large pot with 12 quarts of water. Add the onion, celery and thyme. Bring to a boil over high heat. Mix in sea salt. Add lobster head first*, cover and boil, checking occasionally 8-9 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook about 1 to 2 minutes longer.
Using tongs, transfer lobsters to a large rimmed baking sheet Let stand until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes.
Twist tails off lobster bodies. Using kitchen shears , cut along each side of the ridged membrane on underside of tail meat. Cut tails in half lengthwise and then crosswise into 3/4 to 1 inch chunks. Place tail meat in a medium bowl.
Twist claws and knuckles off lobster bodies. Using a hammer or mallet (or in my case, a very heavy rolling pin!), crack the claws; pull out the meat in 1 chunk. Using kitchen shears, cut shell of knuckles lengthwise in half; remove meat. Dice and add to bowl with tail and claw meat.
Toss lobster lightly with mayonnaise (about 1/4 cup), stir to coat. Season lobster salad with salt and pepper. Brush sides of hot dog buns with some butter. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook buns on buttered sides until golden brown and crisp, 1 to 2 minutes per side.
Arrange buns on plates; gently press open. Line each with some lettuce. Top each with 1/4 of the lobster salad, sprinkle with green onions and a dash of paprika. Drizzle with melted butter. Serve immediately.
*Contrary to popular belief, lobsters do not scream when they hit the water. The sound you hear are gasses escaping the shells.
ETA: Trader Joe's carries a top split hot dog bun! I'm so happy I've found them in time for summer. Lobster roll lovers rejoice!