I had an incredibly pleasant weekend. It was full of dinners & brunches with friends, surprisingly blue skies, palatable temperatures, farmers market visits, and…..attempted murder.
Let me explain.
The weekend started off innocently enough. Friday evening we had dinner with friends at The Red Cat – complete with vodka gimlets, red wine, and deliriously delicious tempura fried green beans. Saturday morning was fantastically snoozy – there was a coffee-swilling stroll with the dog, lounging in the park, and lots of laughing at Tigger (the corner bodega cat) trying to catch pigeons. There was a pass through the Abingdon Square greenmarket, where we picked up a pork shoulder, duck breast filets, turnips, and greens for some upcoming dinners. And then…..
You see for a while now I’d been craving a lobster roll. It’s not exactly the most seasonally fitting craving, I’ll admit, as generally they come packaged with sandy bottomed beers, sunburns, and flip flops – but even still, I *just wanted* one.
Also and aside from that, there are two very famous lobster roll bars located a mere minutes walk from my front doorstep – both of which I happen to love and frequent fairly often. It’s just that I wasn’t only craving the roll, I was also craving the ceremony and satisfaction that comes along with making my own.
So I lazily made my way up to Chelsea Market, walking slowly to maximize exposure to the gorgeous rays of much missed sunshine, and walked to the fish market. I went straight back to the live lobster tanks, confident and very aware of my purpose. I spoke to the fishmonger and told him I wanted two of the nicest looking lobsters, as ‘I,’ (head high, shoulders squared), ‘Am making fresh lobster rolls.’
The two-pound-and-a-quarter crustaceans that he drug out of the salt water and plunked onto the counter had other things in mind. Frick flicked his tail violently and audibly, while Frack ferociously lifted his claws above his head as if to say ‘Try getting ME into your bubbling cauldron, you witch!”. I tried to suppress what surely was a look of sheer terror and nodded that yes, they were perfect.
Halfway to the checkout counter my bag was rustling ferociously, and all I could think about was that these poor creatures were on death row, and I, unfortunately, was to be executioner. My mouth went dry and I became nauseated as the full realization of the deed that was about to ensue set in, and without hesitation I turned on my heel and walked back towards the lobster tanks.
I overestimated my chutzpah, my true grit. With my head hung and once square shoulders shrugged, I told the fishmonger that I, unfortunately, could not murder a lobster…..but “could he please do it for me ?” He smiled as if this wasn’t the first time he’d had that request, and 12 minutes later I had two bright red – and decidedly not animated – lobsters at my disposal.
Being a native Cape Codder surely one would presume that I would be quite opinioned about how I like my lobster rolls. For the most part, I guess, that is true. I am mostly a purist: white, buttery, bun; large chunks of tail and claw meat; and just enough dressing to hold everything together. However recently I have had rolls where mayo has not made an appearance at all – the meat is simply dressed in drawn butter and mounded on the roll. I think butter plays well on the rich sweetness of the meat, but still I just can’t call a lobster roll a lobster roll without a little mayo.
So I used both. I let the chopped meat absorb a couple tablespoons of velvety melted butter (this isn’t diet food, after all) then mixed in mayonnaise, lemon juice, lemon zest, and chopped chives. Seasoned liberally with salt and fresh cracked pepper, these rolls are rich but still fresh tasting – and according to James, ‘The Best Lobster Roll I Have Ever Had.”
2 Pound and a Quarter Lobsters, Steamed or Boiled in Shell & Chilled
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon Mayonnaise*
Juice from 1.5 lemons
Zest from 1.5 lemons
2 tbsp Chives, minced
3 Tbsp Butter, Melted
Salt & Fresh Cracked Pepper
2 White Hotdog buns (top loading if you can find them….we only have side loading in NYC)
Remove all meat from the lobsters tail, claws, and knuckles. Rinse briefly under cool water and pat dry with paper towels. Chop the meat very roughly, and season lightly with salt and pepper.
Place the meat in a shallow bowl, and pour 1.5 tablespoons of melted butter over the meat. Let the meat absorb the butter, about 2 minutes. Toss the meat with the mayonnaise, lemon zest, juice, and zest. Stir in the minced chives and season once more with salt & fresh black pepper. Place in refrigerator while you prepare the buns.
Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Brush the buns on all sides with the melted butter, and fry them until they are golden brown and crisp. Remove the lobster from the fridge, taste for seasoning, and adjust if necessary.
To serve, mound high atop the toasted buttered rolls. Make copious ‘MMMMmmmmm’ noises, and rejoice.
*I’ve mentioned my love for Kewpie Mayo before, and I used it here once again. I think it makes these taste wildly different than if you used Hellman’s or another American brand. You could also be VERY soup to nuts and make your own. But if you’re that legit, you’ll probably also have enough guts to kill your own lobster. Harumph.