Hot Lobster Rolls are a regional dish popular dish that originated in Connecticut, but are also seen in Boston. The surrounding area of New England makes a cold lobster roll. These use fresh lobster meat drenched in butter and and stuffed into a split top bun.
Of course, this makes for some tension as both claim to be “the best lobster rolls”. Much like crab cake debates in Maryland, you really pick sides when you declare which you prefer.
Perfect for a light luncheon or dinner, hot lobster rolls are served on a split top hot dog bun, sometimes called a new England-style bun. There are very specific rolls they are used on that are a cross between white bread and a hot dog roll. These are hard to find outside of New England, so just grab something with a split top or hot dog rolls will do. I like brioche buns.
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Connecticut Style Hot Lobster Roll
While lobsters are generally seen as a fancy meal, lobster rolls are considered casual and lobster salad falls some place in the middle.
Lumpy hot sandwiches, they are served at nearly every restaurant in Connecticut and Boston and even roadside at picnic tables and gas stations.
Contrary to popular belief, they are not simply a lobster salad roll. Lobster salad is creamy and suited for a cold lobster roll.
Delicious Lobster Roll Ingredients
The actual ingredients of a hot lobster rolls recipe are up for much debate and every restaurant will claim to be “the best” and have some minor variations. The cardinal rule of lobster salad is to NOT SKIMP ON THE FRESH LOBSTER MEAT.
The most noticeable ingredient must be lumps of luscious lobster meat. Most salads use the meat from 1 whole lobster. Account for about 1 cup per 1 1/2 pound live lobster. Whether you want to use a chopped up tail or claw meat is up to you. Some grocery stores will have lobster meat cooked and ready to go.
You will also need:
- Lemon Zest– I love citrus with buttery dishes and also seafood. It brightens my world! You can also spritz your finished sandwich with fresh lemon, but adding just a small amount of zest to the butter will really lighten those flavors too. You can use lemon juice, but it will separate from the butter giving you pockets of citrus.
- Chives- Chives are used to garnish and add a light onion flavor, but not so much that the lobster isn’t the star of the show.
- Butter– I use salted butter in my hot lobster rolls so I don’t have to add more salt. One thing to note is that you can use clarified butter or ghee or just regular. Clarified butter is seen to be the purest form and more authentic, but it does add an extra step and time. If you do use unsalted butter, add a pinch of Kosher salt to the mix, but only a pinch, it should accentuate the flavor of the lobster, no overpower.
Some folks also like using paprika, either smoked or regular, but I don’t find it necessary.
You can certainly buy lobster tails and just steam them and then chop. Better yet, you can get the fish monger (or meat counter guy) to steam them for you. Or you can go the cheaper route, which is to steam a whole lobster yourself. But now you need to know how to pick the meat.
I used 1 cup lobster meat in this sandwich which came from a 1 1/2 pound lobster at $18/pound. Just to give some reference. You can use 1 lobster for every 2 rolls, but they won’t be piled nearly as high as the one pictured.
How to Remove Meat From a Lobster
Before you get started making your hot lobster rolls, know that there will be water and there will be mess. Have some paper towels ready and be in a work space that can stand to get a little dirty, like a large cutting board. You can steam your own or get a cooked lobster at the store.
- Twist off large claws, set aside.
- Twist off the tail. It should remove easily with just a little wrist action- no special tools needed. You now have 4 large pieces- the body, tail and two claws.
- I like to start with the tail because this is the largest piece of whole meat. Place the tail with bottom side down, smooth, pretty side up. Using both hands, squish the bottom, thinner shell together.
It will collapse easily and the top of the shell should easily remove from the meat leaving you will a whole piece of tail meat. If you notice a lot of black- that is the intestine and can be removed.
- Next, the claws, because they also carry a good amount of meat. And that’s what you want for your hot lobster rolls. Wiggle smaller hinged portion of each claw to separate. It usually comes out with a tendon and sometimes meat.
Break open claws using a cracking tool, cracking 1 side and then flipping them to crack other side, and remove meat. You might need to use a pick, skewer or fork to get smaller pieces.
- Now, the legs. The least amount of meat is in the legs and some folks don’t even bother, but real lobster lovers leave no meat behind. The larger legs that were attached to the claws have the most bang for your buck, so start there.
Break open each knuckle and wiggle out as much meat as you can, poking through with a skewer or seafood fork. If you are at home, you can roll smaller legs with a rolling pins and the meat will push out the end.
- Lastly, the body. Many will toss the body aside and I don’t blame you. Sometimes you’ll hit the jackpot and other times you’ll get nothing. The body is also great to keep if you plan to make a seafood stock.
This is kind of like picking blue crabs, avoid the feathery looking pieces on the side, these are the lungs and inedible. Looks between the little cartilage lined pieces on the side and you might find pockets of meat, great for adding to your lobster rolls!