Poor Man’s Lobster Rolls

We should all be suspicious of any recipe called “poor man’s” anything. No good can come of imitating a really good expensive thing with a less good inexpensive thing.

Unless, of course, you happen to have the less expensive thing, and you’re curious.

That’s where we were, when we heard about Poor Man’s Lobster. But we had to hear about it at least three times, from three different sources, before we actually put it to the test.

What we heard was that, if you cut striped bass into little chunks, and boil it in salted water, it tastes like lobster. What we thought was, “Yeah, right.” If we were buying our striped bass for $16.99 a pound at the fish market, I’m sure we never would have tried it. But, since we’re up to our ears in striped bass we catch ourselves, we figured we’d give it a go.

Last night, dinner was Poor Man’s Lobster Rolls. We cut up our striped bass (the last of last year’s, still fine after a year in the freezer, vacuum-sealed), and boiled it for four minutes in lobster stock (also from the freezer, also from last year). Then we gave it the classic lobster-roll treatment – mayo, onion, and celery, on a toasted, buttered, hot dog bun.

Damned if it didn’t taste like a lobster roll. A lot like a lobster roll.

It’s not because striped bass tastes much like lobster. It’s because they’re both mild and firm, and the lobster stock imparted a lobster-like salinity (in the absence of lobster stock, salted water will do the same). Anything mild, firm, and salty, dressed with mayonnaise and served on a buttered bun will taste like a lobster roll. A lot like a lobster roll.

Poor Man’s Lobster Roll
(makes three substantial rolls, or four skimpier ones)

1 lb. striped bass
lobster stock or salted water for boiling
1 celery stalk, finely diced
½ small onion, finely diced
1/4 to 1/3 cup mayonnaise, or more, or less, depending on your preference
salt and pepper to taste

hot dog buns

Cut the fish into ½-inch cubes. Bring the stock or water to a boil, and add the fish cubes. Boil four minutes, or until just cooked through. Strain and cool.

Mix the fish with the celery, onion, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper. Toast the hot dog buns and butter generously. Assemble and serve.

13 people are having a conversation about “Poor Man’s Lobster Rolls

  1. there merely supports my theory that lobster rolls are a waste of good lobster. when you’ve got lobster, why would you want to do anything but eat it without any dressing or masking?

  2. Sounds good. Always wanted to try Lobster Roll. Wonder what kind of freshwater fish from our part of the country (Idaho) would work?

    • Smiles, Burbot (freshwater ling) is also called Poor Man’s Lobster. I don’t know if it tastes like lobster (I’ve only had lobster once, it was cold, I was 13, and I thought it was vile), but it is very yummy. You can boil it and eat it with a little butter and garlic, maybe over pasta with some Parmesan cheese…

      It is found in deep lakes, and I think you could fish for it in Idaho, we can in Washington.

  3. Stephen Andrew says:

    Now is that GM lobster? Haha. Sounds fabulous. I’ve often wondered how many lobster rolls are not lobster at all.

  4. Being a big fan of a well done lobster roll, I believe that in the absence of a good lobster roll this will probably taste great, however, put is side by side with the real thing, you will be able to tell the difference. There is a difference between “tastes like” and the real thing.

    • Kevin, I hear ya’, but I will still shell out $12.00 for a few ounces of lobster on a grilled hot dog bun with clarified butter. The Lobsta Truck is on a corner near my office every Friday. It is my downfall!

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