Happy Labor Day!
I often tell people that my hometown in Upstate New York is a lovely place to be from. I love living in San Francisco, and in California in general, and I have little desire to return back to the Northeast. However, there are a handful of things I do miss.
When I was young, I spent a fair amount of time on and around the New England shores. My father lived in Massachusetts and New Hampshire for most of my life, and my mother and I would often take summer trips to Cape Cod or Rhode Island. I loved those pebbly beaches, the balmy days and, above all else, lobster rolls.
I have been pining for years — years — for lobster rolls. There’s really nothing all that remarkable about them: Just lobster meat barely dressed, served in a bun with a side of potato chips and a pickle spear. But two things have thwarted me in fulfilling my craving. First, lobster is not particularly common out here, and when it’s available it’s insanely expensive. But second and more importantly, I could never find the right kind of bun.
You see, lobster rolls are served in hot dog buns, but they must be top-cut buns. That way, you have the most important feature: Sides that have exposed crumb, which you then brush with butter and broil or griddle. Cuz, you know, the lobster and mayonnaise just aren’t rich enough. Lo and behold, Whole Foods stocks hot dog buns that have not been sliced in either direction, so at long last I was able to achieve lobster roll nirvana.
The contrast of the warm, toasted sides of the bun and the cool, creamy lobster salad are the perfect taste of summer, and a flash of nostalgia from my childhood. My craving has been sated for at least another year.
There are myriad theories about how to handle lobsters prior to cooking them. Some insist that you can jam a sharp object into their brain, "pithing" them and allegedly killing them before they go into the water. Others say that pithing just paralyzes the lobster, and doesn’t reduce their suffering. Some say lobsters can be hypnotized by rubbing their heads or abdomens. Whatever. The only way I’ve ever cooked them is by putting them in a pot with enough cold water to submerge them completely and bring to a rapid boil. Supposedly, the warming of the water lulls them to sleep. Once the water comes to a boil, cook for about 6-8 minutes, depending on size (here’s a more specific time chart). Remove from the water and allow to cool before cracking.
You’d be angry too …
Reese meets a new friend.
Into the pot with ya
Not so tough now, are you?
1-1/2 to 2 lbs tail, claw and knuckle meat, coarsely chopped
Approx. 1/2 c. mayonnaise
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard (optional)
1 small celery stalk, finely diced
Salt and pepper to taste
4 top-cut hot dog buns
Combine lobster meat, mayonnaise, mustard, celery, salt and pepper and
fold to combine. Cover and keep chilled until ready to serve. Brush the
sides of the buns with softened or melted butter, and broil or grill
until toasted. Fill the buns with lobster salad and serve with potato
chips and a pickle spear.
Note: The Dijon mustard is my addition; traditionally it’s just mayonnaise, minimal celery and salt and pepper.