Aioli Lobster Roll

Aioli Lobster Roll


There's a seafood store nearby that has some pretty good local seafood, but also flies in lobster from Maine. They have a sale from time to time, and for this part of Florida, $7.95/lb is almost half the going rate. I picked up a couple lobster and decided to make fresh lobster rolls. Now, the New England lobster roll is pretty basic -- fresh lobster, mayo, a lettuce leaf, a roll or bun, and maybe some seasoning. I don't think lobster rolls spawn the same sort of debates that cheesesteaks do in Philly, or pizza does between New York and Chicago, but when I'm in Boston I don't see a lot of debate over the ingredients.

On the other hand, I've found that substituting homemade aioli for mayo will almost always give an interesting spin on a meal. This is still a pretty simple meal, but Christey and I were sadly eying the crumbs on our plates when we were done, wishing for more.

I use fresh lobster a lot, but I almost always kill them, remove the tail and claws from the bodies, then clean the bodies and freeze them. Once I have six bodies, I thaw them out and make a dozen cups of lobster stock. Rice made with lobster stock and wine is one of the best compliments to any seafood dish, and a lobster stock post will be coming soon.

In the meantime, these pair meet their fate:

The lobster is chilled in an ice bath, then the meat is removed from the shells, chunked into large pieces, and reserved.

Aioli is a rustic mayonnaise, generally consisting of egg yolk, garlic, and olive oil. Mustard is a common addition, and other spices or ingredients may be added. For this aioli, I wanted a basic garlic flavor, but I added a roasted red jalapeno (seeded and deveined) for a kick of spice, and the juice of a lemon for some brightness.

I minced some garlic and added it to the mini food processor with an egg yolk and a couple teaspoons of dijon mustard. I seeded and deveined the jalapeno and tossed that in as well.

There are those who will carefully drip the first few drops of oil off a spoon until the aioli emulsion starts, then will add and whisk oil in a small stream, gradually pouring more as the body of the aioli increases. I've done this by hand several times, and I've also whipped cream by hand and have whipped egg whites by hand. However, if I have any kind of mixer, I'll use that for cream and eggs, and if I have my food processor, I'll happily use the little tiny holes in the lid to regulate my aioli. The lid in my processor is divided into two sides, each with a little hole and a well. After pulsing the garlic, yolk, jalapeno, and mustard to mince it all together, I pulse quickly while filling one side of the lid. The oil drips gently into the garlic mixture, and usually I have a stable emulsion by the time the oil drains. If not, I can again fill one side of the lid and continue to pulse. Once the garlic mixture is noticeably thicker, almost like a heavy cream, I can fill both sides and double the amount of oil pulsed into the aioli. One egg yolk can handle quite a few tablespoons of oil, and it will get a nice mayo-like thick consistency. When done, I juiced a whole lemon into the aioli and pulsed a couple more times, then chilled in the fridge.

Meanwhile, Andy wanted to help with the meal, so I set him to slicing rolls (and not cut off his thumb though it may look like that's what he's trying to do), buttering them, and broiling them until toasted. He ended up testing bread and lobster quality.

While the bread was toasting, I heated some butter in a pan over medium-high and sautéed the lobster briefly, to give it a little flavor (from the butter, and from a quick sear).

I removed the lobster from the heat, added a few tablespoons of aioli, and mixed together.

From there, it was assembly: A roll, a lettuce leaf, and spooned in lobster mixture. Can't go wrong.

Deconstruction: I've had lobster rolls in Boston, Martha's, and Maine, and while I love them all, this was really good. Purists may turn up their nose, but the garlicky aioli really adds another dimension to this meal, and really highlights the large, buttery, meaty lobster meat, and the crusty bread.

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