People often ask me what I miss about the East Coast, and New York City in particular. I have various answers including friends and family, the perfect everything bagel (West Coast bakers take note: everything bagels include salt!), the cultural diversity of NYC, great Chinese food, the amazing energy, and I would also add this: the ability to get a delicious lobster roll. Totally serious, I grew up on these and they simply define summer vacation to me. Weather in Maine or on the South Fork of Long Island, I’ve had a lot of delicious East Coast lobster rolls. I havent been to the Clam Bar in Amagansett in many years, but I can close my eyes and remember it perfectly. A good lobster roll is not as easy to find in Northern California, and I’ve just never been a huge fan of the most well-known local option. Like a good roast chicken, sometimes the simplest things are hard to find made really well. But you can make your own amazing lobster roll, and you just might surprise yourself with the quality of what you get.
Made in a purist style, my preferred approach to a great lobster roll is simply to add mayonnaise and diced vegetables to fresh lobster, to serve it on a slightly toasted. buttered roll, and to serve it with a side of potato chips. Though there are, of course, some possible variations, including involving a tangier or spicier aioli, ratcheting up (or down) the vegetables, and wrapping everything in lettuce rather than a roll or bun.
For those who hate the thought of boiling and deshelling lobster, it’s ok to cheat a bit. Provided you have a good fresh go-to seafood store near you, buy the fresh-cooked half-split lobsters (never use frozen) or if in a real hurry, have them deshell it for you, which saves even more prep time (though it costs you more $$). I am a big believer in serving things as fresh as possible. But I am mom and a realist: sometimes short-cuts are just required.
And for any who are interested, whether you live on the East Coast or are planning on traveling to the area sometime soon, be sure to pick up a lobster roll at one of these amazing places. You won’t be disappointed.
Long Island: The Lobster Resturant, Clam Bar, The Dock House, Gosmans Maine: Reds Eats, Bagaduce Lunch, The Clam Shack, Five Islands Lobster Co. New York: Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Company, Grand Banks, Pearl Oyster Bar, The John Dory Oyster Bar, Ed’s Lobster Bar
- 3 (one pound) lobsters
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup celery, finely diced
- 1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Pinch of Old Bay seasoning
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 4 soft long brioche buns or top-split hot dogs buns
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup butter lettuce
- Step 1 In a large pot prep a water bath of cold water and ice. This will be to place the lobster in post-cooking, to stop the cooking process and cool them off quickly. Set aside.
- Step 2 Bring a second large stockpot of salted water to boil. Add the live lobsters and cook until they turn a bright red color, about 10 minutes. Using tongs, carefully remove the cooked lobsters from the boiling water and plunge them into the ice bath to cool. Drain the lobsters and reserve.
- Step 3 For the lobsters, using your hands, carefully twist off the lobster tails and claws and using a small salad fork, remove the meat and place in a colander. Remove and discard the intestinal vein that runs the length of each lobster tail. Cut the lobster meat into 1/4-inch pieces.
- Step 4 Pat the lobster meat dry with paper bowl, place in a medium size mixing bowl and refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.
- Step 5 When the lobster has chilled, remove from the refrigerator and add the celery, onion, mayonnaise, Old Bay, cayenne, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix well to incorporate.
- Step 6 Turn the oven on broil. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Step 7 Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the inside of the buns with the melted butter. Place the buns on the prepared baking sheet and lightly toast in the oven, watching carefully until you begin to see some coloration, about 1 minute.
- Step 8 Transfer the buns to a serving plate, place some lettuce along the bottom of the bun and a generous scoop of the lobster salad. Serve immediately.