From Lobster at Home, by Jasper White.
Serves 6 for sandwiches or as a light entree
This classic mayonnaise-based lobster salad reminds me of Fourth of July picnics on the Maine coast. Its beautiful colors and rich taste, as well as the many ways it can be presented – set it out at a family-style buffet or use it for sandwiches – make it a favorite with my family. My recipe strays from the standard by substituting cucumber and scallion for the usual chopped celery and onion. I like the crunch of the cucumber, and the scallions don’t leave the bitter taste that raw onion can. The recipe gives you the option of using bottled mayonnaise or making Special Tarragon Mayonnaise, which is also excellent for other cold seafood salads such as crab, salmon and tuna.
Fresh tarragon melds beautifully with sumptuous lobster meat but should not be overdone – do not use more than the recommended amount. If fresh tarragon is unavailable, omit it; dried tarragon is a poor substitute. This salad is best eaten a few hours after it is made, but it will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 2 days.
1 pound fully cooked lobster meat, or 5 pounds live lobsters
1 medium cucumber (5 to 6 ounces), peeled, seeded and finely diced
1/2 cup Special Tarragon Mayonnaise (recipe follows) or bottled mayonnaise
3 small scallions (white and most of the green parts), thinly sliced
kosher or sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1. If using live lobsters, steam (page 32 Lobster at Home) or boil (page 29 Lobster at Home) them. Let cool at room temperature. Use a cleaver to crack and remove the meat from the claws, knuckles and tails. Remove the cartilage from the claws and the intestine from the tails of the cooked meat. Cut the meat into ½-inch dice. You may pick all the meat from the carcass and add it to the meat or freeze the carcass for soup or broth.
2. Place the cucumber in a colander for at least 5 minutes to drain the excess liquid.
3. Combine the lobster, cucumber and mayonnaise. If the salad is to be served within the hour, add the scallions. If not, add them 30 minutes before serving. Season with salt if needed and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Special Tarragon Mayonnaise
Makes 1 cup
Covered and refrigerated, this mayonnaise will keep for up to three days.
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 cup salad oil, such as safflower, sunflower or peanut (avoid full-flavored oil)
juice of 1/2 large lemon
1 tablespoon ice water
kosher or sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
cayenne pepper or Tabasco sauce
Place a stainless-steel mixing bowl on a damp cloth to keep the bowl from sliding around. Add the egg yolk, mustard and tarragon to the bowl and whisk until blended.
Drizzle the oil into the bowl while whisking constantly. Be sure that the mixture is smooth and well blended at all times. Stop adding the oil periodically to allow yourself time to catch up; when there is no oil visible, continue adding and whisking. When half the oil is added, add 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice. Alternate between the remaining oil and lemon juice, whisking all the while, until both are incorporated.
Whisk in the ice water. (The water stabilizes the mayonnaise, which prevents separating, a common flaw of homemade mayonnaise.) Season to taste with salt, pepper and cayenne. Whisk. Store in a small container, covered and refrigerated, until needed.
Using a Food Processor:
Place the egg yolk, mustard and tarragon in the bowl of a food processor. Put the lid on and pulse the machine for a few seconds to blend the ingredients.
With the machine on, add half the oil by pouring it in at a slow but steady speed. Alternate the last half of the oil with the lemon juice until both are incorporated.
Add the ice water and pulse for a few seconds. Season to taste with salt, pepper and cayenne. Pulse. Store in a small container, covered and refrigerated, until needed.
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