We’ve been going to Maine for 20 years to drop kids off at camp, and each time we have eaten lobster rolls, which are a uniquely Maine delicacy. There seem to be two clear, constant winners of the best lobster roll contest in Maine: the Clam Shack, in Kennebunkport, and Red’s Eats, in Wiscasset. Both are amazing. And I have discovered that their secret is in the simplicity of their approach. Simple means lobster, bun, and melted butter.
Simple is not “lobster salad” with mayonnaise, chopped celery and scallions, and herbs. The best lobster rolls are not in any way gourmet, or served in any sort of fancy place—they are best eaten and served close to the water, ordered from a counter, and eaten either standing up or sitting on some plastic chairs—or a splintery wooden bench.
Of course, sometimes you need a lobster roll when you are not in Maine, and you are not near the water, and you just have to have one—that’s where this recipe comes in, honed from years of experience eating lobster rolls. This past trip to Maine, in fact, for some crazy reason I did NOT get enough lobster, so when we came home I bought frozen lobster in the supermarket and made this recipe to test it out. It worked.
The Perfect Lobster Roll
Cooked lobster meat (about 3.5 ounces per roll)
1. Start with the cooked lobster meat. In my local grocery, I can get Cozy Harbor of Maine frozen lobster meat. It comes in 7-ounce packages, which make about two lobster rolls. One of the things in Maine that makes a good lobster roll is the generous amount of meat. What’s great about frozen lobster meat is that you don’t have to do the hard work of taking the meat out of the shell. HOWEVER, if you are so inclined, I found a great website called cratetoplate.com which is kind of like a CSA for lobster fisherman, where you can subscribe to a trap and get fresh lobster sent to you on a regular basis. Making a lobster roll just from tail meat is kind of a waste; the most flavorful meat is in the claws and the tiny bits. If you use frozen meat, thaw it under running water. But temperature is important! Don’t make the meat too cold or too hot. Slightly cooler than room temperature (60 degrees) is good.
2. Sprinkle the lobster meat with salt.
3. Toast a bun on both sides. You can use a hamburger bun (like they do at the Clam Shack) or a hot dog bun (like Red’s Eats does). This is not the time or place to go too crusty, whole wheat-y, or fancy.
4. Melt butter on the stovetop and pour liberally over the lobster roll. Honestly, I’ve used as much as 3 tablespoons per bun.
It’s like going to Maine, but without the long drive.