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Featured Recipe: Ethel “Babe” Sewall’s Lobster Roll

Chef Jeremy Sewall of Boston's Island Creek Oyster Bar, keeps a family tradition alive with Maine lobster.

The promise of sustainability is one reason that consumers choose Maine lobster, but many agree that the great taste of the lobster is unique to its environment. Jeremy Sewall, owner and executive chef of Boston’s Island Creek Oyster Bar, buys all his lobster straight from his cousin Mark, a Maine lobsterman.

He claims that, although the quality of lobster relies largely on one’s proximity to the ocean, Maine lobster is best. “Maine has done an amazing job of marketing lobster so that it is identified with the state. The seacoast of Maine is a great environment for these creatures to grow. My personal opinion is that Maine lobster is the best tasting lobster in New England.”

Chef Sewall invites the guests at Island Creek Oyster Bar to learn the names and backgrounds of the farmers, oyster growers, winemakers, distillers, and fishermen that work to bring them their meal. And when it comes to the lobster on his menu, Sewall gets a chance to introduce diners to his family as well.

“We usually have several lobster dishes on the menu under a section called ‘Cousin Mark’s Lobster,’ and if anyone ask about one of the dishes it is an opportunity to talk about how and where we get our lobster.” He says that they even named their lobster roll after his grandmother, Ethel, who was married to a lobsterman and was an expert herself on all things lobster.

For Sewall, the story of Maine lobster is just as important as the product itself. Sewall works closely with all his suppliers and makes sure that his staff know them too. “It gives the staff a sense of where things come from and how hard these people work to get us the product,” he says. “When the staff has pride in our product they translate it to the guests.”

He admits that sometimes buying from a smaller vessel can be more expensive, but that the payoff is a better quality product and a better experience for diners overall. “Over time the guests come to expect quality and trust what we do.”

Ethel “Babe” Sewall’s Lobster Roll

Yield: 4 servings

"Babe Sewall was my grandmother and a great cook. She was married to a lobsterman (my grandfather) for almost fifty years. I don’t think she ever got sick of cooking lobsters. I certainly never got sick of eating them. Lobster rolls were a guaranteed lunch the day after a big lobster cookout. Every house in Maine has a different recipe for this classic – my grandmother’s remains the best in my eyes.” – Jeremy Sewall

Ingredients:

Lobster                                                 2 each, 1 ¼ pound, steamed

Dill pickles                                           ¼ cup, diced small

Celery                                                    ¼ cup, diced small

Celery salt                                             1 tsp

White pepper                                       1 tsp

Mayonnaise                                          ½ cup

Hot dog buns                                        4 

Butter                                                     3 tbsp

Lemon juice                                          1 tbsp

Kosher salt                                            1 tbsp

To Prepare:

Remove all meat from the lobster and dice into medium size pieces. Mix the mayonnaise, pickles, celery, lemon juice, celery salt, kosher salt and pepper with the lobster; reserve.  In a non-stick pan or on a griddle, melt the butter. Lightly toast the hot dog buns on both sides. Fill the buns with lobster salad and serve. This recipe is best served with homemade coleslaw and chips.

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