Friday, July 24, 2015

Maine Shrimp Roll

     Maine Shrimp Roll
     Lobster Rolls are a popular restaurant sandwich at tourist traps along the Maine coastline.  Lobster Rolls are one of the easiest sandwiches to make.  A generous portion of chilled boiled Maine Lobster meat is mixed with a copious amount of mayonnaise, then it is placed on a "row style" hot dog bun.  The sandwich is grilled till the hot dog bun is toasted.  This is all that there is to a Lobster Roll sandwich.
     Nearly every coastal restaurant in Maine offers the Lobster Roll on the menu.  Maine is one of the few places this can be done, because the local price of lobster is dirt cheap.  Local live Maine Lobster sells for about 1/5 the price of what Maine Lobster sells for in other states.  This is why the portion of lobster is so generous on a Lobster Roll.  
     When I worked in Maine, I was hired to cook and write a new menu for a tourist trap restaurant in a small fishing village.  The owner of the restaurant had the personality of a burro's derriere and this fellow knew nothing about the hospitality industry.  The owner was only in the restaurant business, because he saw it as an easy opportunity to make money.  Needless to say, that job was not worth the trouble and after a couple of months I took off for better opportunities.
     While in Maine, I spent a little time visiting towns up and down the local coastline.  One thing that I noticed was that the range of the restaurant cuisine venue was very limited.  There was only a choice of pizzerias, fried seafood & lobster restaurants, one or two American style Chinese restaurants, few diners that sold plain simple food and a bunch of fast food joints.  In Camden, there actually was a few restaurants that served creative fine dining food, but these places depended on wealthy tourists from New York City.
     Overall, the cuisine in Maine was on a Lobster Roll kind of par.  I noticed that the local customers were eager to try the fancy fine dining style food items that I marketed as daily specials, and the fancy food sold well.  The problem at that time was trying to find skilled local cooks.  Most of the local cooks were barely at a fry cook skill level.  The ones I worked with could not make basic sauces and they had no sauté cooking skills.  The local clientele wanted to try fancier food, but the local cooks were not capable of getting the job done at that time.
     Basically, the local region in Maine where I worked was locked in a "catch 22 fried seafood situation."  When only one cuisine venue is offered, like fried or boiled seafood, local consumer burnout inevitably occurs and the restaurant becomes completely dependent on the tourist trade.  If there is a lousy tourist season and the number of travelers is low, then the tourist trap restaurants that offer a limited cuisine venue are subject to business failure.  This happened the season that I worked in Maine.
     Anyway, as far as plain simple food goes, Lobster Rolls are pretty good.  Something simple, like a Lobster Roll, only draws complaints from folks that demand exciting food flavors.
     Lobster Rolls are not the only hot dog bun sandwich that is sold in Maine Restaurants.  Shrimp Rolls are also a popular item.  Most local Shrimp Rolls are made with Popcorn Shrimp.  Popcorn Shrimp are nearly flavorless and sometimes only salt brine can be tasted.  Making a Shrimp Roll sandwich with large shrimp creates a better flavor.
     The best hot dog roll to use for a Shrimp Roll or Lobster Roll is a "Row Bun."  The shaped hot dog buns are placed next to each other in a row on a sheet pan.  After they are baked, the hot dog buns stick to each other and they have to be separated by hand.  The result is a hot dog bun that only has a brown crust on top with two bare sides.  Row Hot Dog Buns are meant to be grilled, so the bare sides are toasted before serving.
     Row Style Hot Dog Buns are not always easy to find at grocery stores.  The crust can be cut off the side of regular hot dog buns, so a Lobster Roll or Shrimp Roll can be made the right way.  I was in Chicago when I made the Shrimp Roll in the photos above.  Poppyseed Hot Dog Rolls are just about the only choice in local Chicago food markets.  Trimming the poppyseed crust to make a Row Bun did the trick.

     Maine Shrimp Roll: 
     This recipe yields 1 sandwich.
     No spices, seasoning or lemon is needed for a Maine style shrimp boil, especially when the shrimp are used to make a Shrimp Roll!
     In Maine, far more mayonnaise it added to the shrimp than what it takes to bind the ingredients together.  I guess that mayonnaise in Maine is the equivalent of Eskimos eating whale blubber in icy cold weather.  The amount of mayonnaise can be reduced, if you wish to live a longer healthier life!  The amount of mayonnaise was reduced to a reasonable amount for the Shrimp Roll in the photo examples.   
     Step 1:  Boil 5 cups of water in a sauce pot over high heat.
     Add about 8 ounces of medium size shrimp.  (21/25 per pound)
     Boil till the shrimp are fully cooked.
     Use a fryer net to place the shrimp in a container of ice water.
     Step 2:  Peel and devein the shrimp.  (Remove the tails too.)
     Coarsely chop the shrimp into bite size pieces.
     Step 3:  Place the shrimp in a mixing bowl.
     Add a generous amount of mayonnaise.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Step 4:  Heat a cast iron griddle over medium/medium low heat.
     Separate a single "row style" hot dog bun.  (Or trim the crust off of the sides of a regular hot dog bun.)
     Brush the sides of the hot dog bun with melted unsalted butter.
     Open the hot dog bun and spoon a generous amount of the mayonnaise and shrimp mixture on the bun.
     Place the shrimp roll on the hot griddle.
     Grill the bun on both sides till it is toasted golden brown.
     Step 5:  Place the shrimp roll on a plate.
     Garnish with a parsley sprig and a pickle.
     When considering the high price of Maine Lobster in places outside of the State of Maine, a Shrimp Roll is a good alternative.  

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