Lobster rolls are a quintessential favorite and they always remind me of trips to Maine, where lobsters are plentiful in the summer. Now most good supermarkets and seafood stores carry live Maine lobsters, making them readily available everywhere.
As in the case of many sandwiches, you don’t need a recipe. All you need is cooked lobster meat, good mayonnaise, preferably homemade, some finely chopped celery for crunch, a bit paprika or cayenne for spice, fresh lemon juice, salt, pepper, and tarragon, chives or parsley for a nice fresh herby flavor, buttered hot dog roll and you’re in business.
Some people are squeamish about handling a live lobster and understandably so. I’m fortunate my husband was willing to plunge him in the boiling water for me. Here’s a link to excellent instructions on how to cook Maine lobsters from the Maine Lobster Marketing Cooperative. Just for fun, we also included spiny lobsters in our sandwich because they were the lobsters of choice when we lived in the Bahamas. Here’s a link on how to cook spiny lobster tails.
If you follow the instructions below from The Summer House Cookbook on how to remove the meat from Maine lobsters, you’ll be all set.
Here’s an outline for how we made our lobsters rolls, yielding 4 sandwiches. We started making the lobster salad by placing picked over meat from 2 (1 ¼ pound) cooked Maine lobsters and also included the meat from 2 (6 ounce) cooked spiny lobsters in a large bowl. Set the salad aside while you make the dressing. If desired, it can be made ahead several hours and kept covered in the refrigerator.
For the dressing, in a bowl we combined about a 2 to 3 tablespoons of homemade mayonnaise or good quality store-bought mayonnaise such as Hellman’s, (some people like more mayonnaise so use your own discretion), a rib or two if they are small of finely chopped celery, some chopped fresh tarragon or chives, a good squirt (a couple of teaspoons) of fresh lemon juice, a shake or two of sweet paprika, and a pinch of cayenne if desired if you like a bit of spice, then season with kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix well and taste for seasonings, then carefully fold some of the flavored mayonnaise into the chunks of cooked lobster. Taste again and correct as necessary with more mayonnaise or seasonings. You want the flavored mayonnaise to moisten the lobster without overwhelming it.
To assemble the sandwich, toast 4 hot dog rolls (split top if you can find them) until they are golden brown, taking care not to let them burn. Brush with melted butter, divide the lobster salad equally among each roll and serve at once. We like chips and a pickle on the side.
For more precise recipes, check out these links - Martha Stewart, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, and Fine Cooking. You'll notice that the proportions of lobster to mayonnaise vary quite a bit, so it really all comes down to a matter of taste.
If there’s a secret to great lobster rolls, I would say it’s to use homemade mayonnaise. Mayonnaise is one of the best tasting things you’ll ever make at home and so much better than store-bought. It can elevate a simple sandwich from ordinary to sublime.
When I was growing up, my mother made her own mayonnaise and there was always a jar in our refrigerator. She used a hand-held mixer, dripping the oil in very slowly until the eggs and oil came together to form an emulsion. It was a tedious project. Now thanks to the food processor, mayonnaise is very easy to make, utilizing that tiny hole in the feed tube to do the dribbling for you, making your job a whole lot easier. Below is Julia Child’s food processor mayonnaise and it is a snap to put together.
The best tip for making homemade mayonnaise is to have all of the ingredients at room temperature and use very fresh eggs. As with anything made with raw eggs, caution should be taken not to leave it out too long or it will spoil.
Julia Child’s Food Processor Mayonnaise
1 whole egg, at room temperature
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, at room temperature
½ teaspoons kosher salt
¼ to ½ teaspoon sugar
Dash of Tabasco sauce, or other hot sauce
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups fine fresh oil such canola, safflower, extra-virgin olive oil, or a combination, at room temperature
Using the metal blade in the food processor, process the egg, the egg yolks, mustard, salt, sugar, and Tabasco 30 seconds. Add lemon juice and process 30 seconds more.
In a very thin stream, pour in the oil, using droplets at a time. In a food processor there is a tiny hole in the lid that will allow the oil to drop in very slowly. As the mayonnaise comes together, you can pour the oil a little faster. When all of the oil is gone, remove the processor cover and check for consistency and taste for seasonings. You may wish to add more lemon juice, kosher salt, or freshly ground white pepper. Driblets of cold water added now make a milder and lighter taste and texture. Store the mayonnaise, covered, in the refrigerator for about a week.