Just over a year ago, Jeff and I spent a week in Maine. It was the week after our wedding, and the trip was to rest, to recuperate, and to eat all of the lobster we’d been missing out on after years of living on the West Coast. We did a pretty admirable job. There were several rounds of lobster rolls, the first just after we crossed the border from New Hampshire, a lobster lunch on the beach at a tiny shack somewhere along the coast, even a taste of lobster ice cream that was not worth springing for a full cone. For someone who ate lobster every year to celebrate the end of summer, it was heaven. But this summer is coming to a close, and no lobster in sight. But that doesn’t mean I (or you) have to left entirely out of the lobster roll game.
Yes, I can technically buy lobster in California, but it’s all flown out from the East Coast, and it’s not as good or generally as fresh as what I remember. And what is super fresh costs more than I want to spend on a fancy sandwich. Not that lobster is cheap anywhere, but for something that’s already pricey, doubling the price just makes it ridiculous. I’ll be saving my lobster roll adventures for the next time I’m in New England. These rolls are made with scallops.
I’d thought about making some kind of fish roll or maybe doing a shrimp roll but both of those ingredients have their own strong flavor. One of the lovely things about lobster is that it’s flavor is very delicate and most of experience is the texture and the slight sweetness of the meat. Shrimp and fish do not really taste like that, but scallops do, and they fall right in the lobster price point I remember – too expensive for everyday but still justifiable as a once in a while treat. They cook up quickly and require very little fuss – much less full that cooking a whole lobster although probably less entertaining as well.
Since lobster rolls aren’t so common here, I bought pretzel buns instead of the traditional top-split hot dog buns, which turned out to be a great substitute. They were soft and squishy and they didn’t need the toasting-in-butter than is required for a lobster roll in a hot dog bun. We scarfed them down while we talked about last summer’s lobster glut, and debated the merits of scallops as a substitute. The rolls were long gone before we ran out of memories. And while I wouldn’t choose these over a real lobster roll served in New England, preferably within view of the water, for now they will certainly do.
- 1 lb scallops (15-20)
- 1 tbs butter
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ cup finely diced celery
- 2 tbs mayo
- ½ tsp celery salt
- Pepper, to taste
- 4 hotdog rolls, sliced top to bottom (not across)
- HEAT a frying pan over medium heat and melt the butter in the pan. When the butter is fully melted and starting to bubble a little, add the scallops and sprinkle them lightly with salt on one side. Cook them for 3 minutes, then flip them and lightly salt them on the cooked side. Cook for 3 more minutes, and then remove them from the heat and let them cool.
- CHOP the cooked scallops into bite sized pieces, about ½ inch square.
- MIX the cooked scallops with the celery, mayo, and celery salt. Taste the mix and add extra salt if needed. Add as much pepper as you like.
- SPOON the scallop mixture into each of the four rolls, dividing it as evenly as possible. really load them up, so that the filling is spilling out of the top. Then serve them immediately.
This is amazing when freshly made, while the scallops are still a little warm, but you can also make the scallop mixture ahead of time and serve it, either cold or room temperature within a few days of making it.