Maine Lobster Roll

One thing all Maine lobster rolls have in common is the top-split, buttered and toasted bun.I have a confession to make: I’m not a fan of lobster rolls. This is a risky admission as a Maine resident. But before you throw me to the wolves, allow me to explain: It’s because I love the taste of lobster so much that I prefer to enjoy it with as little interference as possible.

I like a tender chicken lobster (under 1.25 pounds) — Homarus americanus, of course — straight from the shell, steamed, not boiled (boiling fills the shell with water, which also washes out some of its delicious fat) — eaten warm, sometimes as is, or with melted butter and maaaaaaybe a squirt of lime.

Of course, if you want to do it right, put a bowl of steamers on the side with a few Maine-grown new potatoes, top it all off with a wild blueberry pie, and eat it at a picnic table nestled into a copse of tall pine trees. The scent of sun-warmed pine needles enhances the flavor of a lobster dinner.

We try to buy chicken lobsters (also called chix), and we usually get a few extras because, well, we’re in Maine, so why not? One of our few luxuries is getting to the end of a lobster supper and deciding to have just one more.

2016 19 0614 LobsterRollCampThe best-tasting lobster roll is served on your grandmother’s old plates at a Maine fishing camp. This one has a roe topper.If there’s anything leftover at the end of the meal, we pull the meat from the shell and stash it in the fridge to make a lobster roll. Mainers are very particular about their lobster rolls. Some like the meat cold, with mayo, celery salt, diced celery, onion, and some call any adornment an unecessary affectation of tourism. But you will always find an authentic lobster roll in a buttered, toasted (or grilled) split-top hot dog roll. If it is missing any of these components, it’s just not a Maine lobster roll.

The only way I enjoy a lobster roll is served warm with just butter, and like my steamed lobster, maaaaaaybe a squirt of lime.

If you want to make these at home, I’ve got good news. Like most fisheries, Maine lobster is enjoying a major leap forward in processing. You can now buy cooked or raw Maine lobster vacuum packed in the freezer section of most grocery stores. Just follow the thawing/cooking instructions on the package.

2016 19 0614 LobsterRollHomeThey can be tasty served at home on your back deck, too.As for split-top hot dog rolls, I don’t know. From what I gather, these are regional. BUT my Trader Joe’s does sell them! You can also order a package of them from Hancock Gourmet Lobster Co. here in Maine. They freeze perfectly!

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 1.25-1.5-pound lobsters, steamed or boiled
2 split-top hot-dog rolls
5 tablespoons butter (I use Kate’s from Maine)
Optional squeeze of lemon or lime and a sprinkle of roe if you get lucky

2016 19 0614 LobsterPartsI split the tail of this soft-shell lobster before reheating in a buttered skillet.Preparation

Melt your butter in a small skillet, lightly brush the inside and outside of your buns with it and set aside.

Add your lobster meat to the remaining butter and reheat quickly, just enough to warm it up but not overcook it. I like to split my tail down the middle, if it’s a new-shell tail. If it’s a large tail from a hard-shell lobster, do a rough chop, as well.

Set your warmed lobster meat aside, and toss your buns in the skillet, toasting each side lightly but leaving the inside soft and buttered.

Add your lobster with a nice claw on top, pour the rest of the melted butter over the meat and sprinkle with roe (the red stuff) if you happened to find any. It’s like a flavor shot from the ocean. You can spread the rest of your roe on toast and dip it in corn chowdah if you really want to Maine up your day.

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About the author

Jessica Hathaway

Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman.

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