Lobster rolls have been all the rage on the internet and culinary magazines for a while now, and here at Boredwalk we wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
Problem: Meredith & I are both vegan.
Solution: substitute actual lobster meat with lobster mushrooms. Lobster mushrooms are so named due to their deep reddish orange hue that resembles the appearance of cooked lobster meat. In our experience they also have a slight briny flavor, similar to that of oyster mushrooms, making them an ideal substitute for seafood dishes!
Secondary problem: Lobster mushrooms aren't easily found in Los Angeles, even in season and at the farmers market.
Secondary solution: Get creative with chanterelles instead!
Like actual lobster, chanterelles & lobster mushrooms aren't cheap — these varieties tend to be foraged for rather than grown in a large-scale operation like your standard white button or even portobello mushrooms — and you'll be looking at about $20 per pound at your local schmancy grocery store, so this is most definitely not an everyday meal. But you know what they say: treat yo'self!
Note: this recipe was adapted from Martha's New England Lobster Roll recipe over at A Family Feast, with an assist from Ilene's Vegan Gluten-Free Lobster Roll recipe at The Colorful Kitchen.
Ingredients (makes 4-6 servings):
- 2 lbs. fresh lobster or chanterelle mushrooms, thoroughly washed and cut into bite-sized chunks (on the larger end of the bite-sized spectrum; they'll shrink when cooked)
- 1/3 cup vegan mayo (we like Follow Your Heart's Veganaise and Hampton Creek's JustMayo)
- 4 tbsp vegan butter (Earth Balance's Buttery Sticks are what we use)
- 1 14oz. can/jar hearts of palm
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/4 cup fine chopped celery (tender, light green stalks & leaves from the inner heart)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup finely chopped chives
- Salt, to taste
- Black pepper, to taste
- Dash Sriracha hot sauce
- 1 tsp adobo sauce
- Pinch celery seed
- Dash seafood seasoning
- Dash of kelp powder (this isn't absolutely necessary, but if you want to give it an extra hit of seafood-y flavor, this stuff is great!)
- Lettuce, washed and roughly torn (we used green leaf lettuce, but any will do)
- Spit-top hotdog buns if you can find them; otherwise, sourdough sandwich rolls like the ones we used will suffice.
Over medium-high heat, melt 2 tbsp butter in a large nonstick pan. Once the butter has fully melted, add mushrooms, pinch of salt, pinch of celery seed, and dash of black pepper and sauté (stirring occasionally) until reduced in size by about half and just beginning to caramelize; the pan should be pretty dry at this point. If you still have liquid in there, keep going! You'll start with this:
and about halfway through you'll have this:
and they should look like this once they're fully cooked:
See what I meant about the shrinkage? Remove from heat and let cool.
Next, add the parsley, chives, and celery to a medium-sized bowl:
Now, Martha's recipe linked above only calls for one teaspoon of parsley and two teaspoons of scallion tops (which I substituted with chives). I went a bit overboard and did about 1/4 cup of each for two reasons: we love fresh herbs, and stores almost never sell fresh herbs in quantities that small. Sure, we could have planned a meal involving those later in the week, but we're also pretty busy and didn't want to risk the remainder spoiling before we got to them again.
Next, drain and roughly chop the hearts of palm:
If you've never had hearts of palm, they are amazing, and I loved the idea of Ilene's recipe using them as the primary lobster substitute so much that I wanted to incorporate them into our own. They have a similar chewiness to lump crab meat and a delicate brininess when purchased in jarred/canned form, making them a great plant-based way to add volume & brightness to a salad or dish that might traditionally call for seafood. Add the chopped hearts of palm to your mushrooms.
Next, add the mayo, lemon juice, Sriracha, and adobo sauce to the bowl containing your herbs and celery. Stir to combine. Add seafood seasoning, kelp powder, celery seed, black pepper, and salt to taste.
A quick note about the Sriracha and adobo sauce: this is definitely not a traditional ingredient in most lobster roll recipes, but I liked Martha's idea so much that I figured I'd up the ante with a bit of adobo sauce, too. If you're unfamiliar, most grocery stores sell chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in small cans in the international foods section.
As much as I enjoy spicy foods, these bad boys and the sauce they're stewed in pack a lingering, smoky wallop, so only add a little at a time until you arrive at the right level of heat. A teaspoon of just the sauce should be plenty to impart the trademark smokiness and the faintest hint of heat without overpowering the other ingredients. Pour remaining peppers and sauce into a zip-top bag and freeze. We use a little bit at a time whenever we make stuffed peppers, chili, taco salad, paella, or cajun dishes like dirty rice or gumbo.
Now, back to the task at hand. Add your cooked mushrooms and chopped hearts of palm to the bowl containing your herb/celery/mayo sauce and stir thoroughly to coat. Cover bowl and refrigerate one hour.
When you're ready to serve, toast hotdog buns/sandwich rolls. Melt remaining 2 tbsp of butter. Brush interior of rolls with melted butter. Fill interior of rolls with bed of lettuce, then spoon mushroom-palm "filling" onto lettuce. Sprinkle lightly with paprika and serve!
And lest we forget, be sure you're wearing proper lobster roll attire when testing this recipe out:
Hope you enjoyed reading this recipe as much as we enjoyed making (and eating) it!
Peace, love, and lobster(less) rolls,
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