5 Rules for the Perfect Lobster Roll

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The lobster roll is a quintessential summer foodstuff, particularly for New Englander. A recent trek across New England was made to find and rank the very best lobster rolls the region has to offer.

It’s a perfect dish. It’s so simple. It’s so beautiful in its simplicity. But even the simplest dishes can also be complex, and so each lobster roll was graded with an exacting set of criteria, evaluating each one for portion, texture, sweetness, sourcing, bun, extraneous additions, and ambience.

Here now are five rules for the perfect lobster roll:

  1. The best lobster rolls come from Maine. I eat a lot of lobster rolls everywhere I go, and I have not had one that surpasses the better lobster rolls I’ve had in Maine, our critic says. Maine lobster tends to be the best lobster, and that’s even more true as lobsters are heading north as the waters warm. The best ones are [found] in the colder water. (Our critic admits that Connecticut also produces some excellent lobster rolls, but those are served warm with melted butter vs. Maine’s mayo-dressed version, which is served chilled.)
  2. A split-top bun is essential. This is no time for hot dog buns — a proper lobster roll is traditionally served on a split-top bun, which is highly important because you want it to be griddled and absorb the butter and get crispy on the sides. (Not familiar with split-top buns? Think hot dog buns, but baked touching in a pan and then separated after baking so that the sides are soft and white, rather than crusty and brown.)
  3. Lettuce is prohibited. Lettuce has a bitter, vegetal quality that does not pair well with lobster. Pointing out that “lettuce in the presence of mayonnaise goes soggy and slimy. The slightly sweet crunch of celery, however, is acceptable and even encouraged, as are chives.
  4. Go easy on the mayo. Care should be taken in how much mayonnaise is used, lest it overwhelm the delicate flavor of lobster. Our critic’s number-one-rated Maine lobster roll spot, McLoons Lobster Shack in South Thomaston, deviates from the norm by only using mayo as a spread on the bread, which is a pretty clutch move: “The thing I like about McLoons, actually, is rather than tossing the meat with mayo — if it sits too long [the mayo will] denature the meat and make it squishy, and make it taste like mayo more than anything else — they use it as a condiment, which is what it is.”
  5. Atmosphere counts. Don’t underestimate the importance of scenic views, which make just about anything taste better — but particularly lobster rolls, which are often served at quaint seaside shacks offering picturesque waterfront views.

Source:  eater.com, 7-31-2017

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