The last word on lobster rolls

Here’s something I don’t get. What’s all the fuss about lobster rolls? People argue endlessly about how to make the perfect lobster roll and which restaurants serve the perfect lobster roll and what’s the essence of the perfect lobster roll, and I just don’t get it.

I understand the fuss about making the perfect pizza, or clam chowder, or brownie. Those are all dishes that have significant variation, and take practice and experimentation to get just right. There’s even bona fide disagreement among reasonable people about just what the perfect pizza, or clam chowder, or brownie tastes like. But we all agree on the perfect lobster roll and any bonehead can make one.

Here’s how you do it. Take lobster meat, roughly chopped. Add a small amount of finely chopped onion, maybe with a little celery or parsley.  Maybe not. Add just enough mayo to get it to hold together. Serve it on a toasted, buttered hot dog roll.

That’s it.

The key to a lobster roll is letting it taste as much like lobster as possible. That means that you just don’t do much to it. Muck around with it, and you invariably make it worse. Thomas Keller can sous vide til the cows come home and he just can’t improve on it.

There is only one thing that can make the boneheaded perfect lobster roll taste better, and that is catching your own lobster.

Trust me on this one.

9 people are having a conversation about “The last word on lobster rolls

  1. Good job on the recipe for a perfect lobster roll, and that yummy photo sure helps! The problem is that many restaurants and home cooks are not “letting it taste as much like lobster as possible.” Too much mayo, adding spices, olives, peppers, are other distractions some folks contribute. I once had a lobster roll that was full of those little, tasteless shrimp! That said, the best lobster roll this side of heaven is made by my daughter in law Linda. In a class by itself, and sadly 3,000 mi. away from me.

  2. Barbara — Lobster is certainly one of the advantages of living on Cape Cod. But, thanks to the miracle of air travel, you can get to lobsters or lobsters can get to you — don’t go the summer without a lobster roll. And thanks for the kind words. I’m glad you found me too.

    Mimi — Restaurants muck it up so they can do it on the cheap. But everyone — everyone! — knows that’s bad. (The little tasteless shrimp is a new one on me, though.) Glad you like the photo! Most of my food pics come out looking unappetizing, so I’m glad this one worked. I’ve gotta work on that.

  3. Last year the food channel named PJs in Wellfleet as supreme at making the lobster roll, so I went to investigate. I was sorely disappointed. Personally, I love the lobster roll at The Juice, with a hint of garlic in the mayo, and served on toasted brioche.

  4. i love your simple recipe. i might suggest for a bit of variety, a hint of high quality curry powder. but on the critical side — hot dog rolls?

  5. Ursula — I can’t go there with you on the curry powder, for two reasons. First, curry doesn’t belong in lobster rolls. Second, I think curry powder needs to be cooked. It has a certain raw taste unless it’s cooked over fairly high heat with a little bit of fat. Now, as for the hot dog rolls — you can get very good ones (or the brioche roll that Alexandra mentions), you don’t have to get the kind you’re clearly turning your nose up at. The point, though, is that the rolls have to be soft. A crusty, chewy bread is all wrong with the lobster.

    There. Now you know what a crank I am.

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