Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Canadian Food Experience Project: the Atlantic lobster roll

There's something pretty amazing happening in the Canadian food blogging scene. After connecting with so many incredible bloggers from across the country at FBC2013, Valerie at A Canadian Foodie decided to band everyone together in one huge celebration of Canadian food. And so was born the The Canadian Food Experience Project. Started June 7th, we (and there are many!) share our stories of regional food experiences in hopes of creating a Canadian culinary identity. Last month I was too busy to share my authentic Canadian food memory but despite a blog redesign still in the works, I'm finally on board. This month participating bloggers from across the country are sharing stories of Canadian Regional Foods.

If I was to ask you what food you believe screams Nova Scotia, I bet I'd know your answer.

You got it, lobster. And it's true; here on the Atlantic Ocean, lobster is a big part of who we are as Nova Scotians. We all have at least one lobster fisherman friend and our parents and grandparent even grew up on the stuff.  I know it's crazy but the now high-priced delicacy was once the poor man's food. Oh, how times have changed.

Growing up in Pictou, lobster was everywhere, from the lobster boats docked at the wharf to the signs nailed to every lamppost downtown during the annual Lobster Carnival. In its 79th year, Carnie, as we affectionately came to call it, celebrates the industry that's always been central to Pictou's economy. Along with the usual midway rides, live music, and parades, there's also the lobster boat races, lobster banding competition, and, of course, the lobster suppers at the curling club. Not the elaborate lobster-already-cracked-served-with-fancy-sides kind of lobster supper but rather the traditional potato-salad-white-roll-bib on-hands-all-up-in-there kind of lobster supper we're known for here on the East Coast. If you have yet to experience one, get out that Bucket List. 

We even spent our summers on lobster boats converted into mere pleasure crafts. We'd pack the boats with friends and sail off into the Pictou Harbour bound for Sandy's Cove. Once anchored just off shore, the BBQ would be lit, beers cracked, and one by one we'd  jump into the warm, crystal clear Northumberland. Sometimes several boats would arrive, each one tying up to the next, creating an instant party. Those were the days. 

So you see, lobster and I, we're tight. Usually, Brent and I can't wait for the start of the season, May at home, so it's rather hard to believe it took us til July to finally get our hands on our favourite crustacean. Though I would have preferred to buy directly from my friend at home, the fish market in Eastern Passage was going to have to do. Luckily, it's on the way home from the beach. 

Three live lobsters later, we decided we'd depart from the usual steamed or boiled and try something new. With temperatures in the high 30s this past weekend, it was no surprise our minds immediately went to BBQ. I didn't think it was possible for lobster to get any more delicious but add that smokey charcoal flavour and bam. Best. Lobster. Ever. But when deciding what recipe to share, grilled lobster just didn't seem right. Then I remembered there's always one thing we make sure to have leftovers for, lobster rolls.

Other than the traditional lobster supper, there is nothing more Nova Scotian than the lobster roll. Right now Taste of Nova Scotia is even touring around Ontario in a food truck spreading the lobster roll love. You can add additional flavour to the mayo like I did with the lemon but this is pretty much as straight up as a lobster roll gets. Call me old fashioned, but it just ain't a lobster roll without the white hot dog bun. I even walked all over town in the mad heat in search of them. That's how much it meant to me.

The lobster for this was simply boiled then allowed to cool overnight. Next time I would definitely grill it and create the best lobster roll of all time. Lastly, be prepared to get messy. Spread a ton of newspaper over a table, get out a sharp knife and some sort of pokey instrument like a fork, and get all up in that lobster. Just don't be surprised when you smell like lobster for the rest of the day. That's part of the charm.

the Atlantic lobster roll

  • 1 1/3 lb lobster, cooked, cooled, shelled and chopped 
  • 3 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • squeeze lemon juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2-3 hot dog buns
  • handful lettuce
  • 2 green onions, sliced
Cooking Directions
  1. Combine lobster, mayo, lemon zest and juice, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. 
  2. Serve on a fresh or buttered and toasted (there exists a great divide here as to the proper lobster roll!) with lettuce and green onions.
  3. This is a light lunch for two but god damn I could eat the whole thing myself.
Be sure to follow #CanadianFood on twitter for all the action but I'll post Valerie's roundup for the project mid-month so you too can join in on the Canadian Food Experience Project.