New England Lobster Rolls Recipe
Sitting at a picnic table in the gravel parking lot of a seafood shack stuffing a lobster roll in your face is a summer ritual in New England. And while what you mix with the lobster for the filling is the subject of debate, one thing is not: Don’t skimp on the lobster! This recipe contains the three most important ingredients for a lobster roll: steamed lobster, real mayo (not that sweet salad dressing), and chopped celery. Piled into a buttered, toasted, top-split hot dog bun and served next to a cup of clam chowder, it’s a little taste of “summah” on the Cape in your own backyard.
Special equipment: You will need a seafood cracker for this recipe.
What to buy: If you purchase precooked lobster meat, you will need about 1 cup of chopped meat (about 5 to 6 ounces).
Top-split hot dog buns may be difficult to find outside New England, but they can be purchased online. Alternatively, trim off the outside edges of regular hot dog buns before buttering them.
For the lobster salad:
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- 1 (1-1/2-pound) whole live lobster
- 1/4 cup small-dice celery (from about 1 medium celery stalk)
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 top-split hot dog buns
- Fill a large pot with 1 inch of water and stir in the measured salt. Add a steamer rack to the pot. (If you don’t have a steamer rack, lightly bunch a long piece of foil so that it looks like a rope. Then make a figure eight out of the foil rope and set it in the pot.)
- Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the lobster to the pot head-first, cover with a tightfitting lid, and return the water to a full boil. Reduce the heat and cook at a gentle boil until the lobster is bright red, about 14 minutes from the time it went into the pot. Check its doneness by pulling on an antenna: If the antenna comes out with no resistance, the lobster is done. Remove the lobster to a rimmed baking sheet and let it sit until it’s cool enough to handle.
- Using your hands, twist and separate the tail from the body. Twist and remove both of the claws where they meet the lobster body; set the claws aside. Discard the head and torso.
- Starting with the tail, remove the small, wispy flippers on the underside of the shell. Using a fork, pierce the exposed tail meat and slowly twist and pull it out of the shell in one piece. Rinse any white debris off of the tail meat and set it aside on a cutting board. Discard the shell of the tail.
- Twist the claws and separate them from the legs; set the legs aside. Gently wiggle and pull the smaller part of the pincer shell off each claw. Using a seafood cracker, gently crack the claws, remove the meat, and set it aside on the cutting board. Crack the legs, remove the meat, and set it aside on the cutting board.
- Check the meat for any cartilage or shell and discard it. Coarsely chop the reserved meat and place it in a medium bowl. (You should have about 1 cup.)
- Add the celery and mayonnaise, season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 6 hours.
- Spread the butter on the outside of the buns. Heat a medium frying pan over medium heat until hot, about 3 minutes.
- Place the buns in the pan butter-side down and toast until golden brown, about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Flip and toast the second side until golden brown, about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Divide the lobster salad between the buns and serve immediately.