New England Lobster Roll | December 29, 2016

I spend Christmas in New England with my family.  I love the Pacific Northwest, it is home to me but I enjoy going back east to see my family. There are a few things that I need to do when I am in New Hampshire.  I need to see all my family (4 generations now living there). I need to see the Atlantic Ocean. I need to drink an Old Brown Dog Beer from Smuttynose Brewery. And I need to have a lobster roll.  (or as they say in NH – lobstah roll)

Lobster Rolls are very personal in New England.  People have opinions and are NOT afraid to share them. True New Englanders know that real lobster rolls come on a buttered, toasted New England style hot dog bun. In case you don’t know what I mean, there are two kinds of hot dog buns in this world. First, is the one you can find nationally that is oblong in shape and the cut on one side. Second is the New England style hot dog buns, they have a flat bottom and are sliced open on the top.  Lobster Rolls should only be served on the latter. The best are buttered and toasted on a flat top so that the outside of the bun gets just a little bit of a crust.

This is where the controversy begins.  Lobster rolls are lobster meat – only claw, knuckle, and tail and mayo. The lobster meat is tender, slightly salty, and almost buttery in texture. Some people say there should be celery but celery is filler and there should be NO filler in a lobster roll.  If you want to be fancy, squeeze a little fresh lemon in the mayo but otherwise keep it pure. The mayo should be light enough so that you know it is there but can’t see it.  I like when the lobster meat is barely colder than room temperature.  If it is really cold, like chicken salad  – they made it yesterday. PASS!

Ideally, you would get your lobster roll at a fish market or lobster pound.  I grew up in a medium size town for New Hampshire but right on the 15 miles of NH seacoast so I actually knew a lobster man or two.  In the summertime, my brother and his wife make lobster rolls for dinner on the regular because sometimes lobster is cheaper than chicken. Yup, cheaper than chicken.  That’s great when you want lobster, not great if you rely on lobster as income.

Let’s talk sides for your lobster roll.  Sometimes fries are served.  Sometimes coleslaw.  Never a salad.  Traditionally, lobster rolls should be served with potato chips.  You know the quality of lobster roll joint by the type of chips they serve. For my money, I want crisp, flat (no ridges) salty chips made in New England.  There are a number of potato chip companies in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Maine so they pair nicely.  When they are right, they are a thing of beauty.

The best lobster rolls for me are the kind I can get to go, sit on the beach and eat while watching the waves roll into shore on a sunny, cold New England day. If you are ever in or around Portsmouth, NH check out Beach Plum, Sander’s Fish Market (not just for lobster rolls), or in the summertime Chauncey Creek in Kittery, Maine are all great places to get your lobster roll fix.

Happy New Year Tovolo friends!  Here’s to a happy, healthy, and hopeful 2017.