Wednesday, February 27, 2008

February 27: Lobster Rolls

That thing? The thing I wrote yesterday and a little bit today and posted right below here? Yeah, I still really, really mean it. Scroll down, read it, leave me a comment, and then come back. I'll wait.

Back? Great. Let's talk about lobster.

There are places I've not spent a great deal of time in my life and one of them is New England. Dan and I were talking, while we were on vacation, about places that we could retire to where we could live next to the ocean, have real winters, and not die from the humidity and heat in the summer. Maine came up, and Dan said "We could eat lobster all the time."

I understand (mostly from reading Stephen King novels) that people from Maine sort of poke fun at the tourists who come there to eat lobsters. Let me just say that Baltimore and points east don't have that problem with the tourists who come there to eat crab.

I could definitely live in a place where lobster is a staple of my diet, but it's mostly a delicacy now, and one I don't take advantage of, because mostly it's boiled to a rubbery fare-thee-well and totally inedible, or frozen so long it tastes mostly like iodine, and served in a restaurant that has the audacity to charge $24.99 for it. Lobster should be sweet, tender, briny, or I'll pass.

I can't remember where or when I saw this (probably on the Food Network, and years ago), but I once saw a chef preparing lobster rolls. A lobster roll is a New England regional specialty which consists of a plain white hot dog bun (chosen for its lack of anything to distract from the filling) stuffed full of lobster salad. Simple as can be. It looked amazing. Perfect.

This would be great, I think, for a casual get-together, especially as (knock on wood) the weather gets warmer. Serve it with coleslaw, chips, and cold beer.

Oh, and let me just say this about lobster: suck it up, okay? It's an ocean cockroach, it eats sea junk, it's the scourge of its own microcosm. Throw it in the pot and boil it, don't stand over the pot listening for it to scream. All current research says that they're not capable of feeling pain, so don't go and buy frozen lobster meat or any other ridiculous thing because you're squeamish; it's not the same. In looking at recipes for this, I found a site that illustrated how to keep a lobster's tail straight when cooking it, and it involved inserting a wooden skewer in a spot that...let's just say you wouldn't want a wooden skewer inserted in a corresponding place on your own person, but I'm not asking you to do that. Don't yell at me: I'm not all about the animal cruelty. But this is one time that I'm going to say that I'm at the top of the food chain and lobster tastes delicious, and my karma will just have to take the hit. This serves 4, maybe with a little salad left over to eat on a bed of greens the next day. Mmmmmmmm.

Lobster Rolls

4 Split top white hot dog rolls
4 large (1 1/2 lb.) live lobsters
1/2-2/3 cup mayonnaise, or to taste
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
4 scallions, white and about half of the green part, sliced thin
1 stalk celery, diced fine

Bring a large pot of water to a full rolling boil over high heat. Drop in the lobsters, lower heat to medium, and cover. Cook 8-9 minutes. Remove from pot and chill completely.

Remove meat from lobster: using a gentle twisting motion, separate the tail section from the body section. Break the claws away from the body. Use a sharp, very clean pair of kitchen shears to cut a slit down the tail section, and remove the meat. Use whatever means works best for you for removing the claw meat as well (I use a wooden skewer; those tiny forks just make a mess for me.)

Chop the meat into not-too-small chunks (maybe 1-inch chunks or so, maybe a little smaller.) Mix with mayo, salt, pepper, scallions and celery. This salad should be not too mayonnaise-y, but a little wet. Rely on your judgement and taste.

Pile lobster mixture into rolls. Serve.

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