Lobster rolls are one of the best summertime sandwiches. But does the butter-soaked hot roll known as the Connecticut lobster roll do it for you or is the cold Maine lobster roll calling your name? And what is the difference between Maine and Connecticut lobster rolls?
Ben Conniff, co-founder and CMO of Luke's Lobster, notes that the stories behind each of these rolls get a little muddied.
“A variety of restaurants claim to have invented the lobster roll in the 1910s and ’20s,” he explains. “But honestly, I think it's fair to assume that ever since people have been catching lobster and baking bread, people have been putting their leftover lobster on bread, so I don't put stock in any claims of having invented the lobster roll.”
Both rolls start with lobster knuckle meat — the most tender and flavorful meat of the sea creature — as the base. This gives the roll its distinct flavor. However, claw meat and tail meat are usually added to bolster the rolls and add a bit of texture. Both are also typically served in a split-top, buttered and toasted white-bread hot dog bun.
Let’s break it down. The Connecticut style lobster roll, also referred to as the New England lobster roll, features lobster meat cooked with butter and again dressed with drawn butter and lemon. The buttery lobster salad is served hot.
The cold lobster roll, known as the Maine lobster roll, contains steamed lobster meat that is cooled, tossed lightly in mayo and then spread across a toasted, split bun. Lettuce is sometimes added to this bun, while capers, tarragon, dill and other herbs may make an appearance — spins on the classic recipe are prevalent.
One major difference here; the hot lobster roll is usually just lobster and butter while the cold lobster roll may include celery, bacon, corn or other goodies, elevating the lobster salad’s flavor and texture.
Conniff notes that even though he grew up in Connecticut, the Maine-style lobster roll is the American icon.
“Maine is the lobster capital of the world, and Mainers know how to treat their lobster. In this case, that means not reheating it, which damages its sweetness and texture, but letting it shine in its chilled form,” he says.
Conniff also notes that the Maine lobster roll highlights the flavor of the lobster better than that of the warm lobster roll. He says this is because the lobster is only lightly coated in mayonnaise and not covered with butter and lemon.
“Some folks have the idea that a cold lobster roll means a lobster salad, tossing the lobster with gobs of mayo, celery, chives, etc. If you get a great lobster and cook and handle it the right way, you just put it in a bun with very few to no other ingredients so you can really taste it,” he says. But in a bun dressed with mayo isn’t the only way to serve a lobster...