poorman’s lobster roll

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Right.  I apologize for my “rare” unprofessionalism last time.  Can we start over?  I promise I’ll keep it together this time because oh boy this faux-lobster roll is too delicious to miss out on.  But it’s strange to compose this post because the day I cooked it, my doggy-Armageddon-day had not been realized, and staring back on the make-funny-“when life gives you shrimp, make lobster roll”-line that I drew up then to mock my general cheap-ass style, it now seems to actually speak to me on a philosophical level…  My words-in-past is making contact with my present inner-self.  Wooh~ (believe it or not this is me keeping it together).

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… I lost you haven’t I?  See what I’m trying to say is, growing up sucks.  Reality gets realer and shit gets more trigger-happy.  Is it not enough that life is already like running naked on a shooting-range of high-speed curve balls?  But to pump up the fun and excitement, the older we get the faster, curvier and uglier the ball come flying.  Dodged some with my old-ass hip but as far as the past few years go, it’s been non-stop swinging GIANT BALLS-OF-STEEL SMACKS with exceptional aim at my face (we could all agree 2008 felt sticky and nasty…).  My 20’s is fastly revealing itself as the climax of my life, but let’s not tell her that because she had much higher aspirations… (bitch thought she was gonna be an architect.. HA!).  My dog Dumpling is ALL about my 20’s, that blissfully ignorant happiness and New York.  I just want to give you a heads-up that the day he comes leaving, expect historical EPIC MELTDOWNS I’m talking Lindsay Lohan-style CRASH.

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Anyways, I’m sidetracking from my motivational recipe today.  My faint memory suggests that I may only have had one true lobster-roll experience in my life, which was no-kidding 7~8 years ago at Pearl Oyster Bar in West Village.  Both the extreme ecstasy and price-tag condemned this act to be too sinful to repeat, and I have been itching ever since.  But the other day I peculiarly stopped being a theoretical believer in “making the most out of life” and actually did (well… for just one day at least), and this poorman’s lobster roll sang OUT-OF-THE-CURVE-BALLPARK DELICIOUSNESS that I made it again the next day and, a post.  HEY! I may be progressing on this optimism business.  So your life is giving you shrimp.  You know what to do.

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This lil’guy is what the rambling is all about.  He’s not keen on having his photographs taken and I mostly don’t argue with him these day.

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Servings: 2

This shrimp roll is AWESOME, closely as satisfying as the real deal.  The shrimps that I used are frozen shell-on jumbo shrimps commonly seen in seafood markets, and frozen shell-off black tiger shrimp commonly sold in the frozen seafood sections in supermarkets (especially common in wholesalers like Cosco or etc).  They are slightly different in texture as the shell-on jumbo shrimps carry a meatier/firmer bite, whereas the shell-off black tiger shrimp has a more “bouncy” almost “crunchy” mouth-feel.  I prefer the combination of both but if you only have one type available, by all means just use that on its own.

Without saying, freshness is a given.  But the KEY to delicious/lobster-like result is NOT TO OVER-COOK THE SHRIMP.  Yeah?  You’d be surprised how FAST and EASILY shrimps can be over-cooked (blink of an eye!  just like that!).  The insurance I took to avoid this is to “low-and-low poach” the shrimp instead of boiling.  Once the water is brought to a simmer, the heat should be turn OFF completely.  The shrimps will sit in the residual heat for a warm bath, and depending on the sizes, this would ONLY TAKE 1 ~ 2 min!!

Ingredients:

  • 260 g shell-on jumbo shrimp/prawn (frozen is fine)
  • 150 g shell-off jumbo black tiger shrimp (frozen is fine)
  • Lime salt:
    • Zest/peels from 1/2 lime
    • 1 1/2 tbsp of sea salt
  • Dill/chive mayo:
    • 1 1/2 tbsp of mayonaise
    • 1 1/2 tsp of chives, finely diced
    • 1 tsp of dill, finely minced
    • 1 tsp of lime juice
    • 1/3 tsp of sugar
    • 1/4 ~ 1/3 tsp of lime salt
    • tiny pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 good potato rolls, store bought or recipe here
  • 1 tbsp of unsalted butter, melted

With the shell-on shrimps, remove the heads (KEEP THEM!  For stay-tuned…) and make a slit through the center of the shells all the way to the tail.  Rinse under water and remove any veins/dirt.  Leave the shell on and set aside.  The shell-off black tiger shrimp usually comes clean and deveined, but rinse it clean anyways just in case.

Bring a pot of water (at least 6X the volume of the shrimps) to a simmer, and prepare a ice-cubes-bath on the side.  Once the water starts to simmer, turn the heat OFF COMPLETELY.  Lower the shrimps into the water and let them poach in the residual heat.  Shrimps cook EXTREMELY FAST.  The shell-off shrimps will cook MUCH FASTER than the shell-on shrimps.  Once they curl up and turn orange, which is going to happen within 1 ~ 1.5 min, take one out and slit it open with a small knife.  The center of the flesh should be JUST OPAQUE and not translucent.  Once done, immediately transfer the shell-off shrimps into the ice-cubes-bath.  The shell-on shrimp will only take 0.5 ~ 1 min more.  Slit one open if you need to check, and transfer to the ice-bath once done as well.

Let them cool in the ice-bath for 5 min, then discard the water.  Chill in the fridge until needed.

In a food-processor or spice-grinder, pulse the lime zest/peel and sea salt together until finely ground together.  Mix 1/4 tsp of lime salt, mayonaise, chives, dill, lime juice, sugar and black pepper together.  Adjust the seasoning with more lime salt if needed.  Take the shrimp out of the fridge and feel off the shells.  Split the shrimps in half across the length (you should have 2 mirrored slices), and mix evenly with the dill/chive mayo.  Return it to the fridge while you toaste the rolls (the contrast between the cold shrimps and warm rolls is crucial in a good shrimp/lobster roll).

Brush the melted butter over every surface of the roll including the top.  Toast in a pan over medium-heat unti browned and crispy.  Make a slit through the center of the roll and stuff it SENSELESS with the shrimps.  Garnish with a sprig of dill and serve with a wedge of lime and lime salt on the side.

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11 Comments

  • Hello Mandy,

    Randomly saw some of your photos on Google and they are gorgeous. The roll looks really good and I shall try and get my hands on some fresh shrimps soon to make this. By the way, I usually make do with shrimps as well in place of crayfish (not complaining…and crayfish is even cheaper than lobsters!).

    Anyway, hope to see more great posts from you and be inspired enough to start my own site (lacking in confidence and expertise, but 千里之行, 始於足下).

    Cheers~

    • Elaine, crayfish is actually more expensive than shrimps here for some reason… Oh I would love to have some crayfish now you mentioned…

      Starting a blog is not hard at all! In fact… you don’t need confidence NOR expertise! haaa just build on it as you go!

  • I had some fantastic homemade shrimp rolls maybe a year or two ago and absolutely loved them. Thanks to your –seriously awesome– photos, now I’ve got this huge shrimp roll craving at almost two in the morning. Definitely not proper shrimp roll preparation hours. However, this post is immediately traveling to my bookmarks. Yum!

  • Mandy, you unprofessional? NEVER! I am not faimillar with the concept of the lobster roll but it sure does sounf good. Also I like you use prawnS because well I am poor. haha

    Still you have me drooling at midnight for a sandwich.

  • This is a really good shrimp salad, but it stopped being “lobster rollish” when you added something more than mayo. There are those here in New England that add things like lettuce, finely chopped celery or lemon… they are usually grandparents who didn’t spend anytime near the coast and they are forgiven. Anyone growing up within 20 miles of the coast and tries to pull this is usually greeted with a severe beating or shanking. While I was going to culinary school in Birmingham AL we got an opportunity to make lobster rolls, and the shit I saw folks stuffing into them made me apoplectic. Lobster need only a kiss of butter, or a kiss of mayo and that is it…. some may add a squeeze of lemon and folks in NY like to add lambs lettuce, but we naturally dismiss them as batshit crazy to begin with. Nice recipe, and thanks for sharing.

  • Why have you chopped the heads off the prawns prior to cooking?
    You will water them down and lose flavour!

  • Thank you for this amazing recipe. My wife and I are having a house warming party, and well I am the one who loves to create in the kitchen and I look forward to using this recipe for that event! It looks amazing!

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