These Maine Lobster Rolls are so good it might actually feel weird eating them at home if you live anywhere that doesn’t happen to have a waterfront view of the Northeast coast line. I live in the Midwest so I speak from experience on that subject. Believe it or not, this is actually an easy recipe and you can serve it as an entree or an appetizer, but either way, it’s a total crowd pleaser.
You may have read the title and wondered why I felt the need to point out that these are “Maine” lobster rolls and not just “lobster rolls.” I was not just being “extra” there. Did you know there are “Connecticut” lobster rolls? Neither did I, until I dug into this.
Connecticut vs Maine Lobster Rolls
First of all, Maine lobster rolls are served cold. The lobster meat is lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, and then dressed in a light coating of mayonnaise (I add a little freshly squeezed lemon juice to mine and top it with a little parsley). Some people also prefer to add finely chopped celery to give it a little crunch. (It’s me. I’m some people.) The resulting lobster salad is then packed into a grilled and buttered bun (preferably a top-sliced New England hotdog bun). Are you drooling yet? I am. Also, see my recipe for New England Style Rolls..(linked here).
The “Connecticut” lobster roll, on the other hand, is served hot, and the lobster meat is topped with warm butter. It still sounds amazing, but I’m here for the Maine Lobster Roll.
Cold Water (Maine) Lobster vs. Warm Water Lobster
Besides the way the rolls are served, the “Maine lobster roll” also points to the actual type of lobster with which you’re working. To fully embrace the elite quality of the Maine lobster, you need to know a little bit about its back story. The Homarus Americanus (I’m busting out the Latin), or cold water lobster, is caught all along the Northeast coast. This includes waters north of Nova Scotia, Canada, and all the way South to the coast of the Carolinas. In general, the colder the water (the further north-obviously), the sweeter the lobster.
This sweeter, cold water lobster is clearly ideal in recipes compared to the spiny, rock, slipper, and Caribbean lobster (which have no claws and their meat is not nearly as tender or as sweet as cold water lobster because of the warmer/tropical/subtropical waters they live in). While most Northeastern cold water lobsters are regarded for their superior, sweet, and tender meat; the Maine lobster is the most recognizable and marketable name in the entire world’s lobster industry. Hence, you want the Maine lobster if you want to achieve the perfect Maine lobster roll...which we do.
How do you cook lobster for Maine Lobster Rolls?
For this recipe, you’re definitely going to want to steam your lobster. Steaming lobster is one of the best ways to enjoy the true flavor of fresh, live, lobster. Steaming is a gentler cooking method than boiling, so it’s harder to overcook your lobster, and it keeps the lobster meat a little more tender than boiling.
How to Steam Lobster
*It’s best to use natural seawater for steaming lobster, but if that’s not available, and your closest body of water is Lake Michigan (as it was in my case) it’s also perfectly acceptable to add 2 tablespoons of sea salt to each quart of water.* I’m not going to lie, steaming the lobster DOES make the meat a little more difficult to remove from the tail (compared to a boiled lobster tail). There’s no judgment here if you’d prefer to boil it, but be careful not to overcook it.
- Add 1½ inches of water to a stock pot (if your steaming basket sits higher, and you are steaming a large amount of lobster you can add more water than this) with 2 tablespoons of salt for every quart of water you're boiling. From there, add a steaming basket and bring the water to a boil. Once you have a good amount of steam use a long set of tongs to quickly [and carefully] add in your lobster.
How long should you steam lobster?
Steam ¾-1½ pounds of lobster 7-10 minutes. The general rule is about 8 minutes for the first initial pound, and add about 3 minutes for every additional pound.
How to know if lobster is cooked
A good pretty good indication is if the entire shell is a vibrant red. The meat will turn to a creamy white color all the way through without any transparency. If you have a thermometer on hand the internal temperature on a large piece should reach 135°-140°F.
Cooking lobster at high altitudes
For all my friends 3,000 feet above sea level your waters boiling point is a few degrees lower! So do everything the same, but increase your cook time 2-3 minutes.
What's that green/red stuff?
OK, I have done some extensive research on this, looked at many anatomical diagrams of the Homarus Americanus... The "green stuff" is called tomalley and it is the pancreas and liver. While lots of lobster fans think of this as a delicacy, I like to err on the side of caution and rinse it out once the lobster is cooked.
The "red stuff" is called roe, or coral! These are little eggs found in female lobsters. It is also considered a delicacy. A lot of lobster vendors actually will sell the roe like a caviar.
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Maine Lobster Rolls
- Cut fresh steamed lobster meat in large, bite-size chunks.
- Combine lobster, diced celery, mayonnaise, and lemon juice.
- *taste before adding any salt or pepper - season to preference.
- Butter both sides of the New England style rolls and cook until golden brown in a nonstick skillet over medium/low heat (about 1-2 minutes).
- Fill with a generous amount of lobster mix (garnish with fresh parsley) - EAT & ENJOY!