Lobster Rolls (and Lobster Lessons)
I love Maine lobster – in butter, in bisque, but most especially in rolls. I’ve never thought twice about cooking one myself… but then again, I’ve never chased one around my living room before.
I didn’t set out to cook a lobster. It was a recent revelation that you could buy ones pre-steamed, and that’s what I had in mind. But my fish store was jammed and they gave me a choice: take the live ones or come back in an hour. Too hungry to wait, I set off with two live crustaceans and some sage advice: pop them in the freezer quickly before steaming. Simple enough.
Now let me preface by saying I’m a complete lobster novice. Raised in California, I don’t own a shred of seersucker and have never even cracked a cooked lobster without adult supervision. And thus begins my post: things I have learned about lobster.
First, photographing a live lobster is the quickest way to re-create the classic lobster scene from Annie Hall. I naively tried to sneak in a few shots while the water boiled, and at first the lobster obliged. Then he did a sudden flick-flick-flick jujitsu move with his tail, lunged for the camera and flung himself off the table onto my living room floor. Ninja lobster! Scared the living daylights out of me. Lobster 1: Liz 0.
Second: they don’t really freeze, they just kind of chill out a little. When I slipped off the claw bands, he grabbed the bag and held on for dear life. In a tug-of-war, lobsters win every time. Lobster 2: Liz 0.
The good news is, he emerged from his bath all bright red and steamy. I triumphantly twisted off his tail… and found myself covered in lobster goop. Didn’t see that one coming. Lobster 3: Liz 0.
Determined, I pried some respectable chunks of lobster free, and piled them high in a buttered roll with celery, lemon, chives and (purists look away) crème fraiche, since I was out of mayo. I am happy to report that it was absolutely delicious, transporting me back to the Maine coast last summer where I first fell in love with lobster.
In the end, the roll was totally worth the trouble… though next time around, I’ll stick with pre-steamed, both for food and for photos.
I am not providing a recipe because clearly I am not fit to dole out lobster advice. For wiser words, I refer you to Smitten Kitchen. For an awesome video of Kid meets Lobster, I refer you to YouTube (thank you Kitchn readers!). And for more seafood faceoff fun, I refer you to Liz v. Oysters… they were similarly scrappy.