A Maine lobster roll is a classic staple loved by residents and visitors alike. The good news is that it doesn’t take a chef to make a great lobster roll—it only takes great lobster! The key to preparing a great lobster begins with selecting quality lobster meat. Then it’s a matter of learning how to cook it and choosing the best parts for the roll. Add the right ingredients and roll, and you’re on your way.
Constructing the Most Authentic Maine Lobster Roll
Quality Lobster Meat
From the trawler to the table, locally sourced, sustainably harvested, fresh, wild-caught Maine lobster has a worldwide reputation for excellence. What separates Maine lobster from other species of lobster found worldwide is the cold, clean icy waters of the Gulf of Maine. Fueled by the flow of the Labrador Current out of the north, the water is the perfect temperature for lobster to thrive. Cold temperature prevents the rich taste of brine from permeating the meat. It also slows the growth rate, which helps ensure the lobster meat’s texture is firm rather than mushy (like warm water spiny lobsters) and gives Maine lobster meat its decadently rich, sweet, and succulent taste.
How to Cook Lobster
Boiling is a traditional and simple way to cook a live lobster. Begin with a large pot and fill it two-thirds with water. A typical 4 or 5-quart pot can cook two lobsters at a time, whereas a 19-quart pot can handle 5-6 lobsters at a time. Add 1/4 cup of sea salt for every gallon of water. Bring the pot to a rolling boil and place the lobsters headfirst, one at a time, into the water. Lobster should be fully submerged, and you should not crowd the lobster into the pot (If you are wondering, lobster can be humanely killed by freezing them for 15-20 minutes before cooking). Place the lid on the pot and boil lobster.
How long to boil? Depends on which website you go to for instructions. In general, Mainers boil lobster 8-10 minutes per pound of lobster; a 2-lb lobster will take 13-15 minutes per pound. If you are eyeballing it or lose track of time, they are done when the lobsters turn bright red. You can double-check by waiting 10 minutes after pulling lobsters from the water and then placing them on their backs. For each lobster, bend and release the tail; if it springs back, it’s done. If any tail moves back gradually, that lobster needs a couple more minutes of cooking time.
Which Parts are Best for the Roll
Once cooked and cooled, as you shell the lobster, separate the meat pulled from the claws, knuckles, and walking legs to use in your lobster roll. Why not the tail? No law says you cannot use the tail in a roll. It’s simply a recommendation. Each section of lobster has a different texture and slightly different flavor. Though the lobster tail is delicious, it is not the most tender part of the lobster. That’s because lobsters constantly use their tails to propel along the seafloor. Consequently, the tail is far more muscular than other body sections, rendering it firmer, more fibrous, and less sweet. On the other hand, the meat from claws, knuckles, and tails is far less muscular, making them more tender, succulent, and sweeter than the tail. If you’re undecided on which part to use or want to skip the whole cooking and shelling steps in making your lobster roll, you can easily order fresh Maine, hand-picked lobster directly from Klenda and enjoy!
Ingredients and Assembly
With the lobster meat sorted, the chunks of claw, knuckle, and leg should be lightly tossed with your favorite mayo brand. The objective is to add just enough mayo for the meat to bond while giving it an overall creaminess. Some recipes for Maine-style lobster rolls call for adding chopped celery or seasoning like tarragon and pepper to the mix. That’s up to you—same as the type of roll to use. Many recipes call for a hot dog roll that is center cut, buttered, and toasted. However, any type of sub roll can be center cut, buttered, and toasted—one that’s longer and larger than a hot dog roll, for instance, and more nutritious. Either-or once your roll is toasted, stuff and pack it with tender, sweet, lobster meat and enjoy your homemade Maine lobster roll.
To buy live lobster from Portland, Maine, order from Klenda Seafood and get it shipped directly to your door. We also offer curbside pick-up at our South Portland location if you live locally – call for details and to place your order over the phone! Contact us— we would be happy to answer any of your questions.