recipe

Lobster shell in a bowl
Shredded lobster and mayonnaise in a a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon.
A cooked lobster.
Lobster rolls served with lemon and potato chips.
Lobster shell in a bowl Shredded lobster and mayonnaise in a a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon.
A cooked lobster.
Lobster rolls served with lemon and potato chips.
Credit: Photographed remotely by Earl Carter

New England lobster roll

David Moyle is a chef. He is a food editor of The Saturday Paper.

Credit: Photographed remotely by Earl Carter

Simple seafood is an utter delight that was once a regular part of our diet. If well sourced and fresh, it needs no greater adornment than lemon, olive oil and salt. But to experience seafood in this manner nowadays, you either have to have the means and time to catch it yourself or the capacity to pay top dollar. I think we all like to conjure up romantic imagery of the coastal fishing village of our dreams, and picture ourselves enjoying seafood in this environment, surrounded by hanging fishing nets and buoys and a wall-mounted lobster.

While Australia doesn’t have saltwater lobsters with oversized claws in our waters, as they do in Europe and the Americas, we do have freshwater native species such as marron and yabbies. I think a superior substitute is the crayfish or, more officially the southern rock lobster (Jasus edwardsii), which works beautifully in this recipe instead of its pictured North American cousin.

I recently spent some time in the appealing hamlet of Montauk at the tip of Long Island, New York. This once-sleepy town was predominately a fishing port with some major records scored in recreational pursuits. Benefiting from the Gulf Stream that runs warm water up the east coast of Central America and home to a large game fishing fleet, it is a popular destination for New Yorkers stepping outside the Hamptons in summer. It is not far removed from the spiritual home of the New England lobster roll.

The entire east coast of America has wonderful seafood – clams, diver scallops, beautiful little oysters and lobsters. The lobster roll is a staple of street food along the coast and is available in two distinct styles. One is simply fresh meat warmed in melted butter and served in a grilled bun, the other is a steamed bun housing the meat bound with mayonnaise. This mayonnaise version has strong origins in a classic remoulade, so I like to add salted, shredded celeriac and pickled celery. One of the most important elements of this recipe is to make sure you don’t overload the lobster with dressing. The flavour is delicate so it’s important to keep levels restrained.

Ingredients

Serves 2

Time: 3 hours preparation + 10 minutes cooking

For the pickled celery

  • pinch celery seeds
  • 200ml white wine vinegar
  • 150g sugar
  • 300ml water
  • 5g salt
  • ½ head celery, finely chopped
  • ½ bunch dill

For the lobster filling

  • 80g shredded celeriac
  • salt
  • 20g minced or finely diced horseradish
  • 80g mayonnaise
  • 50g pickled celery
  • 1 cooked lobster (crayfish), about 1kg
  • 2 pinches Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 lemon zest and juice
  • salt and pepper

​To serve

  • 2 x 15cm hot dog buns
  • small amount of melted butter
  • 4 leaves butter lettuce
  • lemon wedges
  • potato chips (I prefer salt and vinegar)
Method
  1. Bring all of the pickle ingredients up to the boil in a pot, except for the celery and the dill. Let this cool to room temperature and then add the celery and dill. Steep for at least two hours prior to use.
  2. Take the shredded celeriac and sprinkle it with salt. Let this sit for 15 minutes until the celeriac softens and starts to lose its liquid, then squeeze the rest of the liquid out and add the celeriac to a mixing bowl together with horseradish, mayonnaise and 50 grams of the pickled celery that has been drained of its brine.
  3. Clean the meat from the body and legs of the lobster and cut into large chunks. Add this to the mixing bowl and combine. Finish with the Old Bay Seasoning, lemon, salt and pepper.
  4. Brush the hot dog buns with some melted butter and place into a steamer for two minutes.
  5. Spoon half the lobster mixture into two overlapping lettuce leaves and then place this parcel into a cut bun. Repeat and finish with more Old Bay Seasoning.
  6. Serve with lemon wedges and potato chips.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on June 17, 2023 as "Constant crayfish".

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