This lobster sandwich is served on a toasted croissant and is flavored with diced cucumber, tarragon, lemon zest, poppy seeds, mayonnaise, and whole-grain mustard. The tarragon adds a bright herbal anise-like flavor which unexpectedly goes well with lobster. Poppy seeds and seafood are an unexpected combination that works so well that David Chang specifically mentioned this flavor pairing in his Momofuku cookbook. Lobster and butter are also another great combination — this sandwich gets its butteriness from the croissant. This isn’t a traditional Maine-style lobster roll–that’s what makes it unique.
Source: Modified “Boiled Lobster” from “The Art of Simple Food” by Alice Waters. We used “Crab Sandwich” from “Tartine Bread” by Chad Robertson as our recipe for the lobster sandwiches, but we left out the chervil that the recipe suggested, since it isn’t available in our markets.
- 4.5 pounds live lobster
- 1 small cucumber (e.g. Persian cucumber) or part of a larger cucumber, preferably seedless
- a few tarragon stalks
- 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 tsp whole-grain mustard
- (optional) 1 tsp toasted poppy seeds
- zest of 1 lemon
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 to 4 Tbsp butter
- 4 croissants
Find a very large pot which is large enough to hold a lobster. Fill with salted water and bring to a simmer (a rolling boil will toughen the meat). Immerse one lobster at a time, head first, into the water and let cook for at least 7 minutes (large lobsters will need more time). Use tongs to remove the lobster and cool under cold running water to stop the cooking. Repeat with the remaining lobsters.
Shell and remove the lobster meat once the lobsters are cool. Set lobster meat aside. Optionally you can save the shells to make stock.
Peel, seed (if applicable), and finely chop the cucumber. Remove the leaves from the tarragon stems; discard the stem. Mix the mayonnaise and mustard in a large bowl. Stir lobster meat, cucumber, tarragon, poppy seeds (if using), and lemon zest into the bowl with the mayonnaise mustard mixture. Taste and if the salt and seasonings aren’t flavorful enough add more to taste; if the lobster salad is too mild and under flavored, add 1 tsp of lemon juice and add more to taste to give it a bright acidic note. Sometimes the lobster can taste mild at first; if you give it some time in the refrigerator (an hour or more), it will absorb the flavorings. You can refrigerate the salad for up to 1 day.
Split croissants in half. Heat a cast iron or other heavy pan on medium. Melt enough butter to lightly coat the bottom of the pan (1 Tbsp or so). When the butter bubbles, toast the croissants in the heated pan. Rebutter the pan as necessary and repeat for the remaining croissants.
Spoon the lobster mixture onto the bottom half of each croissant and cover with the top half. Serve immediately.
To make stock from the lobster shells:
This process is very similar to making shrimp stock.
Reserve the tail shell, head shell, claw shells, legs, and white fat after picking out the meat for another usage. Discard the lungs and the green colored tomalley (insides). Lobsters are to be a lot cleaner than crawfish; the shells only need to be rinsed if they look dirty (most likely they don’t need rinsing).
Add the reserved shells and some aromatics (e.g. bay leaf, thyme, a few garlic cloves, shallot or onion). Cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer. Keep at a bare simmer for 1 to 3 hours.
Waterman's beach – good old days