For this task, we used a little savvy shopping to cut down on time, mess, and stress (read: transporting a live sea creature). Most fish markets offer frozen lobster meat or they’ll steam live lobsters for you for a nominal extra cost. Once you settle on an approach, there are two popular styles of lobster roll to consider: Connecticut style (butter-based) and Maine style (mayo-based). Pick your favorite or host a side-by-side tasting. Here’s how.
Procuring the lobster
Option 1: Frozen
Find frozen cooked lobster meat at your local fish market or order it online. It often comes in one-pound or two-pound vacuum-sealed packs and contains tail, knuckle, and claw meat. Thaw the sealed package in a large bowl of room temperature water before using.
The Lobster Guy Frozen Lobster Meat, $43 for 1-pound, available at TheLobsterGuy.com.
Option 2: Store-Steamed
Your best bet is a fish market for this, as well. Ask the fishmonger to steam a few 1 1/4-to-1 1/2-pound lobsters for you, then follow the instructions (below) for taking out the meat.
Option 3: Live
Bring about three inches of water, the juice of one lemon and one tablespoon salt to a boil in a large pot over medium heat. Add about three 1 1/4-pound lobsters in the pot, cover, and steam until the shells turn bright red, about 10 minutes. Remove with tongs and rinse under cold water to cool. Twist off the claws, then break off the tails (use a kitchen towel to help you get a good grip, if desired). Put the claws on a cutting board and crack open using the flat side of a chef’s knife; remove the meat. Cut open the tail with kitchen scissors; remove the meat. Chill meat 10 minutes before using.
Maine-Style Lobster Rolls
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 to 2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp celery salt
1/4 cup diced celery
1 lb cooked lobster meat, chopped (from about three 1 1/4-lbs lobsters)
2 tbsps unsalted butter
4 top-split hot dog buns
Old Bay Seasoning, for sprinkling
1. Whisk the mayonnaise, lemon juice, and celery salt in a large bowl.
2. Add the celery and lobster meat, and toss to combine.
3. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the hot-dog buns and toast until slightly golden, about one minute per side.
4. Divide the lobster meat among the toasted buns. Sprinkle with Old Bay.
Connecticut-Style Lobster Rolls
1 stick unsalted butter, melted, plus 2 tablespoons
2 tbsps lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika
1 lb cooked lobster meat, chopped (from about three 11/4-pound lobsters)
4 top-split hot dog buns
Chopped chives, for sprinkles
1. Whisk one stick melted butter, the lemon juice, salt, and paprika in a large bowl.
2. Add the lobster meat and toss to combine.
3. Melt the remaining two tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the hot dog buns and toast until slightly golden, about one minute per side.
4. Divide the lobster meat among the toasted buns. Sprinkle with chopped chives.
Photo: Courtesy of Erin Phraner.