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Lobster Rolls-Help!

We are having birthday celebration for my wife's 80 year old grandmother. She fondly remembers a trip she took to Maine years ago; The thing she talks about the most are lobster rolls. So I want to surprise her by making lobster rolls, but I have never made them. I have had them in NYC and LA (@ the Hungry Cat)but not sure if the ones I had are genuine representations.

My plan is to buy a dozen or so lobsters as I figure one per person. I will then cook them, get the tail meat..but then what?

This is where I need your help: Do I just use the tail meat or do I use the claw meat also? How finely do I chop the meat? Do I need to cook the lobsters the day of or can it be done the day before and then finished off the day of? Are there variations to lobster rolls, or are ingredients pretty standard?

So, please provide me with a recipe for lobster rolls. I think the simpler the better, to allow the flavor of the lobster to shine.

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

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  1. The best lobster rolls tends to be really simple-- lobster with homemade mayonaise in a buttered, toasted split top roll. Cook the lobster in the morning so that it has a chance to chill. Lemon, tarragon, chopped celery are all occasional additions. It is a very rich dish so keep portions small. You really don't need a lobster per person-- maybe 1/2 or 2/3 of a cup of lobster salad per person to fill the bun generously.

    5 Replies
    1. re: JudiAU

      Thanks JudiAU for the prompt reply.

      ?Split top roll-I take it that these are similar to a hot dog bun? Is there a certain brand that people prefer? Are they readily available? Im in Los Angeles, in case there is a local purveyor. Thanks.

      1. re: ickster

        Split top rolls are the New Englanders version of a hot dog bun. It is a roll in the shape of a hot dog bun, but with a slit in the top of it. They taste exactly the same as a hot dog bun (in my experience), but hold the meat slightly differently.

        1. re: MalinDC

          they're also key b/c its easier to butter and grill/toast the outside of the roll since top split buns don't have the 'crust' all the way around...they're more like a piece of white bread folded in half which was my first impression upon seeing them (i'm from CA but went to school in Maine). On what to put in the lobster roll: tiny bit of mayo, maybe a little celery, salt pepper. Perfection!

        2. re: ickster

          Not sure if you'll be able to find them there - but you can find them online here: http://www.mapleandmore.com/ or here: http://www.portuguesefood.com/acatalo...

          Also - when you mix in the mayo, keep the mayo at a MINIMUM. Just barely enough to bind the (large!) lobster chunks together. It should in no way look like the gushy tuna or chicken salad you buy at delis.

          1. re: ickster

            The standard brand on the East Coast is Pepperidge Farm but they don't distribute here. A regular hot dog bun is the usual sub.

        3. Use the tail and the claw meat - rough chopped so there are substantial chunks in every bite, piled high on a buttered, toasted hot dog bun and topped with a dollop of mayo.

          what i cook -----> http://dcinsideout.blogspot.com/icook

          1. If you find split-top rolls in LA, please let me know too. BTW - I prefer lobster rolls with a bit of mayo and celery, but there's another version that's just lobster meat and melted butter stuffed into the grilled split top roll.

            1. Absolutely use the claw meat -- one beauty of the lobster roll is that smaller pieces don't go to waste.

              And seriously, if you can get split top rolls by all means use them for exactly the reason BHK reported: the outside of a split top roll rests on the heat surface for toasting whereas the only way to do a hotdog bun is to splay it open and rest the insides on the grill (usually breaking it in the process).

              1. If you're serious about your lobster rolls, I guess you could bake your own roll. Here's the "correct" pan, from the King Arthur's Flour folks:


                I haven't tried Hungry Cat yet, but understand they use a brioche, which they don't claim as authentic. I've had all my lobster rolls in Boston.

                What's bugging me, though, is that if the King Arthur's pan makes the authentic buns, why couldn't you just buy an unsliced loaf of dense white bread, cut thick slices that you then put a slit into and toast with a brushing of butter? If anyone's ever used one of these pans, I'd love to know how it works.

                Good luck and be sure to make a fabulous lobster stock with all those left-over shells.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Mrs Fang

                  Simmer the shells with white wine, carrots, onions, and tomato paste (20 minutes or so). Then strain, add whipping cream and reduce. Makes a lovely bisque. Crush a few eggs into the bisque to heighten the colour.

                2. Please, please, please don't waste the meat in the body!! Tear the shells apart and dig out the wonderful nuggets (even if they're small, they'll taste great!) There is often a surprising amount of meat in even small lobsters. And the cook gets to suck out the legs here.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: mirage

                    And don't waste the eggs (if there are any) or the liver. I like the taste, texture, and colour of the eggs. I would mix the liver in with the mayo; I love the creamy texture and taste of the liver.

                  2. Sorry to revive this post.

                    I'm a little unsure of how to toast this top split roll. Does the outside of the bun get toasted or the inside. If it's the inside, how do you do it without splitting the bun into two pieces??


                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Davwud

                      Don't worry about the splitting open part -- you can kind of hinge it open to toast it in the oven, that might be easiest. Very lightly toasted, on the inside, so that the ingredients don't make the bread soggy.

                      It's a tradition in some parts to have a little piece of claw meat sticking up from the middle of the lobster salad (that little finger where the claw divides in two.) It should come out of the claw very easily, just give it a gentle tug.

                      How nice of you to do this!

                      1. re: brendastarlet

                        Okay, I get ya.
                        The one recipe I saw had you butter both halves of the inside and grill them "Like a grilled cheese sandwich" which is what I was thinking of doing.


                        1. re: brendastarlet

                          Since you're still talking about this. Speaking from Rhode Island, the Lobster Roll capital of the world: the outside of the bun gets buttered and cooked on a griddle. A great lobster roll is expected to contain a whole lobster, tail and claw. Mayo is minimal, and some (not me) prefer it on the side so they can use as much or as little as they like. Most Rhode Islanders expect that NOTHING else will be in the lobster roll--certainly not anything "fancy" like tarragon (although I understand the impulse). The meat should be cooked within a few hours and only barely chilled. Here in New England, fresh cooked and shelled lobster is readily available, although most people cook their own so it is super fresh and tender, tender, tender.

                      2. I realize you are looking for a recipe, but I'd like to make a small suggestion that may save you time & effort, with far greater results. I don't know where you're located, but I am in Chicago. I am lucky enough to have a decent fishmonger around the corner from me. Whenever we get lobster from them, we pay an extra $1 & they steam the lobsters for us. No fuss, no muss. They also sell a lobster roll. Perhaps they can give you the recipe for a bulk batch. I can not say if they are good, as I have not yet had one, & my husband would probably make it more to my liking anyway-plus the bread they use here is just wrong..

                        Here is also a link to the Martha Stewart recipe that you can adapt to your own taste:


                        1 Reply
                        1. re: louweezy

                          I have to admit. I'm gonna cheat and use canned meat. They have some at Costco that looks to be good. I'm not expecting it to be fantastic but I'm in the mood to try it. Friday is fish day at our house and I don't really have time to go to the market, get the bugs come home and cook them. It's just simple and easy.
                          If I like it, which I'm sure I will, I'm planning on getting some when they go on sale and doing it properly.


                        2. On Nantucket, there was a great fish market (Sayles) where you could buy fresh lobster meat (and I mean SUPER fresh) pre-cooked in big chunks by the pound..they used plastic tubs like supermarket delis use for potato salad. That's an easy way to get the basic ingredient for lobster rolls. When I'd visit my Aunt on the island, she'd always buy a pound just for the two of us....melt some butter and we'd have a feast....mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Another wonderful Nantucket twist on the lobster roll is serving it in Portuguese rolls instead of split top rolls...but not just any kind of Portuguese roll...they had to be from the Nantucket Bake Shop.

                          1. Okay, here's my report on my lobster rolls.

                            I found Wonder top split hot dog rolls and they look exactly like what I've seen in pictures.
                            The canned frozen lobster meat from Costco was much better than I anticipated. I was expecting good. I got very good. It did have a lot of smaller bits and pieces but had about 6 full claws. I had to take the cartilage out of them though.

                            SO, I took some mayonnaise and added some lemon zest, garlic, celery seed and pepper. Mixed it up and let it sit for a couple hours for the flavours to mingle.
                            I put the lobster meat in a bowl. It was about 3/4lb or maybe a cup and a half.
                            I added the mayo in small batches (it took about 2 tbsp) until it seemed to just hold together.

                            I'd seen both toast the outside of the bun and toast the inside. So I did two of each for us. Toasting the outside was clearly the winner in my mind.

                            So anyway, I loaded up the buns with the lobster and put some coleslaw on the side and that was our dinner.

                            THEY WERE FANTASTIC!!!

                            Thanks for the help Hounds.