The original lobster roll from the 1920s was served on a submarine-style roll.It wasn’t until the 1940s that the New England split-top roll was invented. The J.J. Nissen Baking Company in Maine, commissioned by the Howard Johnson hotel restaurant, brought the idea to fruition. https://tinyurl.com/new-england-bunsWhat is widely known as the New England-style hot dog bun was first created to hold a fried clam strip sandwich. From there, the split-top bun was adapted to create the lobster roll as it is known and loved today.
What is a Lobster Roll?
A lobster roll is a sandwich made of three key ingredients: lobster meat, butter, and a New England-style split-top bun. But, lobster rolls are made in two variations: the cold and the hot lobster roll.Every New England state has its unique style of lobster roll (based on the cold and hot variations), containing different kinds of fillings and buns.
So What’s a Traditional Lobster Roll?
The answer depends on which New England state you’re in.That being said, the traditional lobster roll as we know it today would not exist without the unique bun that was invented in Maine.The answer to which version is the traditional roll, one must give the tip of the hat to the Maine lobster roll.At least, when you’re in Maine.
What Makes a Good Lobster Roll?
Without question, the best lobster rolls are those made with fresh lobster. Claw and knuckle meat is ideal because they’re sweeter than the tail. Some lobster rolls in New England are so fresh, the lobster in the roll was swimming in a tank at the time the order was placed.The second ingredient of a good lobster roll is a freshly grilled bun.Believe it or not, that’s basically it.
Maine Lobster Roll
A Maine lobster roll is made with cold lobster accompanied with a hint of mayonnaise on a butter-grilled, split-top bun.That’s it? Pretty much! Once you take a bite, it becomes clear nothing else is necessary.Fresh Maine lobster is the star and it’s shocking how good it is. Some places make it with lettuce and offer a side of mayonnaise or hot butter.On the topic of hot butter, depending on how cold the lobster is, it’s generally best to dip the sandwich into the butter and then take a bite. Warm butter solidifies when poured over cold lobster, so it makes sense to use butter as a dip.
Connecticut Style Lobster Roll
The Connecticut lobster roll is served warm. In some places (like at Abbott’s Lobster In the Rough in Noank, CT) it’s served on a burger bun with a side of butter.It’s hard to take sides on which kind of lobster roll is best, the cold Maine-style or the hot Connecticut-style lobster roll. They’re both delicious. If one were to take a stand, one could say that a lobster salad sandwich smothered in gobs of mayonnaise and dressed with celery and lettuce is not a traditional lobster roll.But be careful, you don’t want to express that opinion in Rhode Island.
Rhode Island Lobster Roll
A classic Rhode Island lobster roll consists of lobster, mayonnaise, lettuce, bread, and unfettered creativity.Mayonnaise allows the addition of other ingredients like pepper, celery, dill, sauces, white pepper, and even sugar.No eyebrows are raised in Rhode Island at a lobster roll on a brioche bun with celery and tarragon dressing.It could be said that the hallmark of Rhode Island lobster rolls is creativity.
The Classic Lobster Roll
There are many kinds of lobster rolls, but there’s only one that can be called the classic. Connecticut has a solid claim for their version of the lobster roll being the classic. Though some may say that it’s the first, but not necessarily classic.The classic lobster roll is made with a split-top bun, something that didn’t exist when the Connecticut lobster roll was invented.A strong case can be made for the Maine version as the classic lobster roll because of the key ingredients: fresh lobster, and the Maine split-top bun.But, that doesn’t mean that the Maine lobster roll is the best. It just means that it’s the classic style of lobster roll. Once you know the classic you’re ready to begin exploring the many other ways a lobster roll can surprise and delight.