Recipe Review

This Lobster Roll Is a Labor of Love — And It’s 100% Worth It

published Jun 9, 2022
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Barrett Washburne

When it came time to round up recipes for our lobster roll recipe showdown, I kept coming across the name Jasper White. In hindsight, this makes a ton of sense because he literally wrote the book on seafood in New England and cooking lobster at home. Clearly this guy knows what he’s talking about. With this kind of expertise, I had no other choice but to include his recipe in the showdown.

I’ll be honest — my first reaction upon glimpsing White’s recipe on Food52 was that it looked like a lot of work. He calls for a specific lobster steaming method, a homemade tarragon mayonnaise, and a 30-minute chill time. My anxiety was heightened before I even tried it. That said, I can respect a detailed, well-tested recipe, so I put on my big girl pants and got to work.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Barrett Washburne

How to Make Jasper White’s World-Famous Lobster Rolls

First, make the tarragon mayonnaise. I did this in the food processor because I value my wrists and my time too much not to, but if you prefer, you can whisk it by hand in a large bowl. Mix up an egg yolk, Dijon mustard, and chopped tarragon leaves. Starting one drop at a time, slowly stream in a neutral oil, whisking vigorously to create an emulsion. Continue until all of the oil is added, then season with lemon juice, hot sauce, salt, and pepper.

Once the mayo is made and tucked away in the fridge, steam the whole lobsters. To do this, add an inch of salted water to a large pot, then place a steaming basket over it so that the water isn’t touching it. Bring the water to a boil, then add the lobsters and cover the pot until the lobsters are fully cooked through, which should take 10 to 15 minutes. Once the lobsters are cool enough to handle, remove the claws and tail, then use seafood crackers or the bolster of your knife to break through the shells and collect the meat. Cut the meat into a 1/2-inch dice.

Next, place chopped, salted cucumbers in a colander for 5 minutes to allow them to expel some moisture. Mix the lobster meat, tarragon mayo, scallions, and cucumbers and let it chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. After the lobster mixture has chilled, trim the edges off your top-split buns, then butter and toast them in a hot skillet. Stuff them with the chilled mixture and serve immediately.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Barrett Washburne

My Honest Review of Jasper White’s World-Famous Lobster Rolls

There are a lot of recipes that will ask you to jump through tons of extra hoops and the end product doesn’t taste any different than a shortcut version of the same thing. This is not one of those recipes. Yes, steaming the whole lobsters, making a homemade mayonnaise, and waiting for the mixture to chill are all undeniably time-consuming steps. But the final product was top-freaking-notch and if I had to do it all over again, I most definitely would.

I loved the contrast of the chilled, herbaceous lobster mixture against the warm, buttery bun. Tarragon is an herb that I don’t think I have used since culinary school, and frankly I am really asking myself why it is not a bigger part of my culinary life. That mayonnaise was delicious and I have since used the leftovers on sandwiches and wraps.

As far as his steamed lobster method, I have no issues with it, although I don’t want it to be something that deters you from making these lobster rolls. If there is another lobster cooking method that you prefer (or you’d rather buy store-bought meat), I think you should do that. Ultimately, once you slather steamed lobster in a rich mayo and stuff it inside a warm, buttery bun, I think it’s pretty hard to decipher whether the shellfish was sautéed, boiled, roasted, or steamed, you know?

If I Make Jasper White’s World-Famous Lobster Rolls Again

Frankly it’s not a question of if I make it again — it’s a question of when will I make it again. I’m ready for round two.

Rating: 9.8/10