Lobster was a big-ticket item at our house when I was growing up. We had it maybe once or twice a year, usually on my dad’s birthday in June. There was only one way to serve it, as far as he was concerned: boiled, with drawn butter.
My dad grew up in Rhode Island, so no doubt his New England roots are behind his crustacean affection. It’s an emotion I share wholeheartedly. But oddly enough, though the price of lobster has dropped in recent years, we hardly ever have it at my house. In fact, my kids have yet to eat boiled whole lobster with drawn butter. (I plan to remedy that before the price goes up again.)
They are far from deprived, however. This summer they had the pleasure of trying that classic summertime treat, the lobster roll. After sampling the version offered by the Red Hook lobster truck, we decided we should try to make our own rolls at home.
This proved to be ridiculously easy, because the lobster roll is one of those recipes in which less is more. We followed a classic recipe, which we found in a little gem of a book called “The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches,” by Susan Russo (Quirk, 2011). Like my dad, Russo is a Rhode Island native, so she knows her lobster roll. In her book, she offers two versions: the cold lobster roll, consisting of cold lobster salad, barely bound together with a little mayonnaise and lemon juice and piled into a toasted soft white hot dog bun; and the hot lobster roll, which is nothing but chunks of freshly cooked lobster tucked into a toasted bun and “doused with melted butter.”
They both sounded fine to us, but since we were in the middle of a crazy heat wave, we went with the cold version. The only change we made was to substitute shrimp for a little of the lobster: slightly less luxurious, but still delicious.
Russo recommends eating lobster rolls “with good company, cold beer and lots of pickles and potato chips on the side.” Tomato salad or coleslaw is also good on the side. And if, like me, you are not much of a beer drinker, try a glass of chilled California sauvignon blanc.
The recipe comes after the jump.
Domenica Marchetti is the author of the upcoming “The Glorious Pasta of Italy” (Chronicle, June 2011) as well as “The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy” (Chronicle, 2006) and “Big Night In: More Than 100 Wonderful Recipes for Feeding Family and Friends Italian-Style” (Chronicle 2008). She blogs at DomenicaCooks.com.
Lobster and Shrimp Rolls
Makes 6 sandwiches (4 to 6 servings)
We found split-top hot dog buns at Rodman’s in the District.
To drink: a crisp California sauvignon blanc.
MAKE AHEAD: The sandwich filling needs to be refrigerated for at least 30 minutes.
Adapted from “The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches,” by Susan Russo (Quirk, 2011).
8 ounces cooked lobster meat, cut into chunks
8 ounces peeled, deveined and cooked large shrimp, each cut into thirds
1/4 cup regular or low-fat mayonnaise
1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup finely chopped celery
2 scallions, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
A few dashes hot sauce (optional)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 split-top hot dog buns (see headnote)
1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
6 lemon wedges, for serving
Combine the lobster, shrimp, mayonnaise, lemon juice, celery, scallions, salt and pepper and hot sauce to taste in a mixing bowl. Fold together gently until well blended. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until well chilled.
When ready to serve, butter the buns inside and out. Place on a grill pan or in a large skillet over medium heat. Toast until golden brown and crisp all over. Transfer to a platter.
Tuck a little of the romaine lettuce into each of the rolls, then fill each roll with equal amounts of the lobster-shrimp salad.
Serve immediately, with lemon wedges on the side.