From the Archives: Wicked Good Lobster Rolls

[Photograph: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Get the Recipe

I may live in New York, I may have even spent most of my youth in New York, but I was born and bred in Boston, and I'm a New Englander at heart. The only time I get involved in televised sports is when the Yankees are playing the Red Sox.

As such, I felt it was my duty to set the record straight on not only exactly what a lobster roll should be, but also what it can be.

Let's start with a simple definition. A lobster roll consists of chunks of tender, sweet, cooked lobster meat barely napped in a thin coating of mayonnaise, all stuffed into a top-split, white-bread hot dog bun lightly toasted in butter. A warm, butter-coated lobster salad is an acceptable variation on the classic, and in some cases, either version may contain a few additional textural or flavor elements applied very sparingly—celery, onions, chives—but like any good pizza is built on a crust, a lobster roll that misses these basics has no chance of earning its claws.

So how do you make the best of such a simple creation? As with many things, it all comes down to attention to detail. Perfect selection and treatment of ingredients, balance, and above all, the ability to restrain yourself from over thinking. It's just a lobster roll, right?