The annual article about the $100. Lobster Salad here in the Hamptons has just hit the press. But since it’s been at that level since 2008, it no longer makes the “paper of record”, the Times. It’s now relegated to the tabloid New York Post. So this year’s outrage at the price is muted. The lobster salad in question comes from one of the Hampton’s Royal families of food, whom I’ve long considered to be friends. And it is absolutely delicious. And if you don’t believe me, go to Loaves and Fishes and taste it for yourself.
It should be noted that the shop that carries the $100. Lb lobster salad is located in a corner of town of Sagaponack, whose zip code is home to the most expensive homes in the entire state of New York. With a 2017 average price of 6.45 million dollars, $100. for Lobster Salad is rather a drop in a very deep bucket. The shop also has the distinct advantage of being reachable from all parts of the village of Sagaponack without ever having to drive the notorious Montauk Highway. This two-laned road is clogged from Memorial Day to Labor Day from dawn on. In order to buy Lobster Salad at its least expensive in the Hamptons would require a drive to Montauk itself, a roundtrip distance of 47.8 miles and god knows how many hours in the car. That would save you $53. Because in Montauk, one place sells it for the bargain basement price of $47. a lb. Then you’d have to hope that the air conditioning on your Bentley would be sufficient to get the salad home before the mayonnaise went ‘off’.
The reason for this excessive price is that Loaves and Fishes uses hard shell Canadian lobster. Local lobster has been run off by climate change and the closest pots to Long Island are now some 80 miles away. Now you can find Maine Lobster here to make your own for considerably less. However, if you really are feeling thrifty, this recipe from a recent New York Times Magazine is a godsend. Originally, it called for Rock Shrimp. Not finding those, and being, as regular readers will remember, a stickler for wild caught and preferably domestic shrimp, I was able to buy mine for $15.99 a lb. Its inventor is Gabrielle Hamilton whose Prune restaurant is a New York shrine of sorts.
Ms. Hamilton compares Rock Shrimp to Lobster Tail so when I saw that I went for it. Ms Hamilton makes the point that shrimp actually don’t have a lot of flavor and benefit from aggressive seasoning along the way to becoming Shrimp Salad. She accomplishes this by salting the shrimp far more than I ever have before—before, during and after the very quick cooking process. The celery, onion, dill and a little mayo do their bit to add to the flavor. She griddles the buns with unsalted butter and then tops the whole thing with slices of hard-cooked egg. You can leave that off it you want…it would likely make a prettier picture than I did. Here is the recipe. And beneath it, a couple of other Shrimp Salads you might enjoy. Oh! One more thing. Loaves and Fishes will sell 1000 pounds of Lobster Salad during the season. That’s $100,000 worth of Lobster Salad.
Shrimp Rolls with Hard-Cooked Eggs
A riff on Gabrielle Hamilton's Rock Shrimp Salad, this is a perfect summer sandwich for lunch or dinner. And a great reason to serve French fries too.
- ½ cup kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- 1 ½ pounds peeled raw rock shrimp
- ½ of 1 small white onion, finely minced
- 1 small celery rib from inner core, finely minced
- 5 tablespoons mayonnaise (Hellmann’s or Best Foods only!)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large, bushy branches of dill, stems removed, feathery leaves chopped
- ½ of 1 lemon
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 4 hot dog buns, preferably potato
- 2 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled then sliced into thin rounds using an egg slicer
- Step 1 In a stockpot, bring 2 1/2 quarts of water to a rolling boil, and add the 1/2 cup salt. In a large bowl, prepare an ice bath with 3 to 4 quarts of cold water and about a quart of ice.
- Step 2 Season the shrimp all over with kosher salt, and turn off the heat under the boiling water. Wait 1 full minute before dropping the shrimp into the hot water. Let shrimp cook just until they lose their translucence, 1 to 2 minutes. Strain, then plunge into the ice bath just until cooled, no more than 2 minutes. Pat shrimp dry, and transfer to a cutting board. Roughly chop the shrimp by making a few cuts through the pile with your chef’s knife until shrimp is cut into medium, bite-size pieces.
- Step 3 Transfer chopped shrimp to a bowl, and stir in the onion, celery and 3 tablespoons mayonnaise. Season to taste with kosher salt, pepper, chopped dill and a few drops of lemon juice. Set aside.
- Step 4 Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium. Evenly butter the interior and exterior of each hot dog bun. Working in batches, toast the buns inside and out in the skillet until golden brown. (We love as much buttery griddled surface area as possible.)
- Step 5 To assemble, remove the buns from the skillet, and slather the interiors with the remaining mayonnaise. Evenly distribute the shrimp salad among the buns. Top each roll with alternating slices of hard-boiled egg and endive, then sprinkle each roll with a little kosher salt, a short grind of fresh black pepper and a few drops of lemon juice.