How To Make A 'Classic' Maine Lobster Roll

Dina Spector
August 27, 2013

There's no one way to make a lobster roll.

I learned this on a visit to Portland, Maine, where lobster rolls are not only everywhere but come in all forms. The basics are usually the same — a split-top hot dog bun stuffed with cold lobster meat — but the roll is subject to countless variations depending on where you eat.

Some questions to consider: Is the bun toasted? Should the meat be drizzled with butter or lightly dressed with mayo? Is it acceptable to mix in celery, onion, and other herbs? How much meat should there be?

According to DiMillo's, a large waterfront restaurant in Portland's Old Port district, the "classic" Maine lobster roll consists of chilled lobster meat mixed with mayo and served on top of iceberg lettuce in a split-top bun.

Here's how it's made:

1. Steam the lobster and pick the meat from the tail, claws, and knuckles (here's a step-by-step guide).

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2. Cut the meat into smaller pieces. Place the meat in a plastic bag and chill.

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2. Lightly butter both sides of the bun. Toast the bun on a grill for about a minute on each side or until golden brown.

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3. When ready, prepare the toasted bun for the fillings.

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4. Fill the bun with a small handful of shredded lettuce.

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5. Mix the chilled lobster meat with some mayonnaise to bind it. Stuff the bun with 3.5 ounces of lobster meat and serve.

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Some people prefer their lobster meat without mayo. That's the way Portland Lobster Company serves it. Their $15.99 lobster roll (market price at the time) was lightly brushed with butter and piled onto a single piece of lettuce. Fresh and simple. A lemon wedge, coleslaw, and French fries came on the side.

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The Blue Rooster Food Co., a low-key sandwich shop in Old Port, puts an Asian spin on the seafood creation. The "Banh Mi" lobster roll comes with Maine lobster, pickled vegetables, cucumber, mint, cilantro, and crispy pork (which I didn't get).

This sandwich is definitely not for lobster roll purists, but all of the flavors worked well together. The vegetables were refreshing and they added a satisfying crunch to the lobster meat, which was mixed with mayo. The bun was toasted.

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RîRâ, an Irish pub, serves their lobster meat au naturel with a dollop of mayo on top. The bun is toasted and it comes with French Fries on the side.

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