Lobster Roll


By Chef David “Smitty” Smith



“A true lobster roll comes in a hot dog bun, and not just any bun,
but the kind you have to break apart.”


It doesn’t seem to matter where I am or what I’m doing; every time I open my mouth to say anything, the first response from any stranger is: “Where are you from?” I get it, after 25 years out here; I still have a slight accent.

I was sitting in the water ski school office the other day with Breck when a couple of girls came in to pay for their rentals and once again, there it was that question: “Where are you from?” Well, of course, the next thing to happen is for them to start guessing and for the most part, these girls were fairly close. At least, they were on the right coast until Dan pipes up and says “Australia.” One of the girls was kind of second-guessing that while the second girl was saying how cool that was and how she almost guessed that. Australia or New Zealand is, by the way, most often the first guess. Go figure?

It was pretty entertaining and Dan and I, along with the girls, got a good laugh out of it. Of course, they did want me to keep talking, but unlike 99 percent of the time, they didn’t ask me to repeat one of those standard Boston sentences that everyone wants to hear, which I’m not going to even mention.

Anyway, since there was so much emphasis on Boston this week, accent-wise anyway, I decided I had to write about one of the most popular summer treats you can get when visiting the area. Lobster Rolls can obviously be enjoyed any time of year, but it is one of the most popular and sought-after summer meals in New England. Of course, as soon as you involve lobster, the price goes up a bit, but hey, everyone deserves a treat once in a while. The reason I mentioned the price going up is because when someone gets that first lobster roll, the initial reaction is usually one of dismay. They can’t believe they just paid $15 for a salad that comes in a hot dog bun. I mean, seriously?

It’s true. A true lobster roll comes in a hot dog bun, and not just any bun, but the kind you have to break apart. Not the buns that are individual and look like a tube with crust all the way around. The buns should be nice and soft and then slightly buttered and grilled, so the outside is golden with just that slight crispiness.

As for the filling, there are a million ingredients you can use, but just pick a few and use only a small amount of them. Lobster is so sweet and mild you don’t want to hide the flavor. After all, that’s why you spent your whole allowance on it. Many places will use herbs such as tarragon, fennel or dill. Use these if you like, but again, they can become overpowering in this roll pretty easily so use just enough to leave that slight hint of a flavor. The most common dressing to add is mayonnaise, but you can also use a little oil or melted butter if you want.

By now, you can see where I’m going with this. If you get a lobster roll at a restaurant, you get it how they make it, but if you are making it yourself, then you might as well add your favorite ingredients. I will give you my favorite way and also list some other popular ingredients.

As for the amounts, add a little at a time and go by taste and not measurements so you don’t mask the flavor of the lobster. I do use small, diced celery and onion but only sweet onions like a Vidalia or a red onion, and only a tiny amount of each. Enjoy.


Lobster Rolls

For approximately 8 rolls

1½ lbs. lobster meat, cut into ½-inch chunks

Mayonnaise, just enough to slightly coat the salad

Lemon juice to taste (a few drops)

Celery, small, diced maybe half a stick for crunch & flavor

Sweet onion, small diced no more than the amount of celery used

Salt and pepper to taste

A few parsley leaves chopped for flavor & color for garnish

Hot dog buns


Mix all the ingredients together a little at a time to taste. Lightly butter the outsides of the buns and grill to golden. Fill the buns with the salad and enjoy.

Other popular ingredients include Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, fennel, tarragon, dill, chives, oil, butter and any other herbs. Just use a few drops or leaves of whatever you use.


Smitty is a personal chef specializing in dinner parties, cooking classes and special events. Trained under Master Chef Anton Flory at Top Notch Resort in Stowe, Vt., Smitty is known for his creative use of fresh ingredients. To read archived copies of Stir it Up, visit chefsmitty.com or TheTahoeWeekly.com. Contact him at smitty@chefsmitty.com or (530) 412-3598.