It’s not true that you can’t get past the Kittery tolls booths southbound unless you have lobster on your breath. But from the lines we see at lobster shacks and full parking lots at the lobster pounds along the coast, you would sure think it was true.
If you live here, it’s a daunting prospect to get in line for a lobster roll until sometime in September. If you are lucky enough to have a friend or relative in the lobster fishery, you might get a couple lobsters handed your way to cook up however best you like them. That happened here this week.
I’m not crazy about soft-shells, euphemistically called “new” shells, especially steamed and eaten in the rough. They strike me as a little squishy and bland, though I know they have their adherents. They squirt all over when you break the shells, flooding the plate. What a mess. I’m happy to wait until they firm up and fill their shells. But soft-shells are a dream to cook with because you can get the meat out so easily. I made a lobster roll out of mine.
I belong to the mayonnaise school of thought as far as lobster salad to fill rolls with. Add a little bit of chopped shallot, finely chopped celery, salt and pepper, and really only enough mayo to coat the lobster lightly. After all, the point is to taste the lobster, not a raft of other stuff. I believe in top-split rolls lightly toasted on the sides in a little butter.
If you don’t add a lot of lettuce to the roll, you can fit all the meat from one lobster in one roll. If you end up with a tablespoon of lobster salad left out, you’ll just have to eat it with a spoon. (Awww, too bad.)
For one lobster, choose a shallot the size of a grape to chop up. About three inches of celery rib is plenty. Use more or less according to your taste. Lettuce is optional, but choose wisely. Iceberg is too juicy for lobster rolls. A tender, loose-leaf lettuce is a better bet to slide in beside the lobster salad.
For the absolute maximum in feeling smug, pack your lobster roll in a cooler bag, and go find a spot by the shore, maybe a few yards from a lobster shack with a line. Then, pull out your delicious homemade lobster roll, gaze out to sea and happily relish your lunch.
1 lobster per person
1 shallot the size of a grape per person
3-inch piece of celery rib per person
Mayonnaise, to taste
Salt and pepper
1 lettuce leaf, optional
1 top split roll
Butter, to taste
1. Steam the lobster and pick out the meat, cutting into pieces slightly smaller than bite-sized.
2. Chop the shallot and celery finely and add to the lobster meat.
3. Stir in just enough mayonnaise to hold the ingredients together lightly, and add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Spread the rolls on the sides with just a slight bit of butter and toast lightly on a hot pan.
5. Fill with lobster salad mixture and add lettuce to taste.