One of summer’s great pursuits: the search for the perfect lobster roll. And, oh, there are many.
In New York City, the once humble fisherman’s lunch on a buttered hot dog bun has been elevated to cult status via abundant sweet-meat treats at Red Hook’s Lobster Pound, Pearl Oyster Bar, Luke’s, the Mermaid Inn, Littleneck, and so many more. But the one I dream of most often comes from a food truck in parking lot in Southold, New York.
The North Fork Table & Inn stationed their daily food truck in the little parking lot next to the pretty white-columned restaurant a few years back, and their lobster roll — oh heavenly sweet creatures from the depths below — is one of the best I’ve ever had. Not too much mayo (and homemade at that), a little tarragon, a puffy soft but lightly toasted bun. I long for it from my perch a seemingly long 2 hour trek away. But then I had an idea — why not just ask how they make it.
Cindy Halloren heads up the NOFI’s food truck for chef/owner Gerry Hayden — here’s what she’s got to say on buying lobster, cooking them just so, saying no to store-bought mayonnaise, and what she puts in hers:
“In regards to the wonderful crustacean… Our local Fish markets source lobster from Maine and Canada because they are more abundant. Buying lobsters from a reputable fish monger is always best. And when buying lobster they should always be alive and even a bit feisty in their movement. To cook the perfect lobster, poach them in butter. Sometimes sticking with tradition and simplicity is the way to go. Our lobster roll is made with house made mayonnaise, tarragon, lemon zest and finished with Old Bay Spice. Once again pretty traditional and simple. I believe the house made mayonnaise is what makes it surprisingly light for a lobster roll made with mayonnaise. Store bought mayonnaise lacks flavor for the density of the product, thus forcing the use of more salt to achieve any real taste. Not to mention it masks the flavor of the lobster. My advice to anyone making a lobster roll or salad, whether it be hot or cold, would be to keep it simple and make all possible elements of the dish yourself.”