- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 15, 2003

My husband’s midsummer birthday fortuitously coincides with the time of year when lobsters are in season and the prices start to drop.

It’s not surprising, then, that every July he hints that lobster would be a fine addition to his celebration supper.

An enthusiastic fan of this shellfish myself, through the years I have feted him with many forms of lobster on his birthday.

I’ve steamed or boiled whole lobsters weighing up to 4 pounds, grilled lobster tails, made lobster chowder and assembled lobster salad.

However, one preparation I’ve never served is a lobster roll — this year’s choice.

Among New England’s seafood specialties, the lobster roll is an all-time favorite of mine. It is composed of cooked, diced lobster and chopped celery bound with mayonnaise and often scented with lemon, then mounded on lightly toasted, crustless, hot-dog style rolls.

Each bite of this simple sandwich is celestial. The tender lobster meat is a fine counterpoint to the crisp bits of celery, and the silken mayonnaise dressing contrasts well with the light crunch of the toasted bread.

For my version, I used a sesame- and orange-scented mayonnaise that takes only minutes to prepare. It is made by whisking sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and seasonings of orange juice and zest into store-bought mayonnaise, which is then combined with the lobster, celery and scallions.

The sesame and orange seasonings add a refreshing note to this traditional filling.

These sandwiches are ideal for casual summer entertaining.

They are delicious served with only a garnish of potato chips or French fries for a light lunch or supper. You could also make them the centerpiece of a more substantial dinner, offering them with corn on the cob, cole slaw and a plate of sliced tomatoes sprinkled with herbs.

The following recipe makes 3 to 4 rolls, depending on how much filling you use, but the ingredients can easily be doubled or tripled.

New England lobster rolls with sesame orange mayonnaise

Sesame and orange mayonnaise (recipe follows)

pound cooked lobster meat, diced (see note)

2 tablespoons finely chopped celery

1 scallion, including 2 inches of green stems, finely chopped

3 to 4 sandwich rolls (hot dog-style buns with crustless sides), lightly toasted

2 to 3 teaspoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, optional

Combine sesame and orange mayonnaise, lobster, celery and scallion in a large nonreactive bowl. Mix well. (Mixture can be prepared 2 to 3 hours ahead; cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature 30 minutes before using.)

Mound each roll with lobster salad and sprinkle lightly with parsley, if desired.

Makes 3 to 4 servings.

Note: One pound of lobster in the shell yields pound of cooked meat.

Many fish markets will cook lobster and remove the meat for you. The price is higher but may be worth it for the time it saves.

SESAME AND ORANGE MAYONNAISE:

cup regular or reduced-fat (not nonfat) mayonnaise

1 to 2 teaspoons dark Asian sesame oil (see note)

1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

teaspoon grated orange zest

1 teaspoon orange juice

Whisk mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, vinegar, orange zest and juice in a bowl to mix well. Taste and add up to 1 more teaspoon sesame oil, if desired.

Cover and refrigerate until needed.

(Sauce can be made 4 hours ahead. Bring sauce to room temperature 30 minutes before using.) Makes about cup.

Note: Different brands of dark Asian sesame oil seem to vary in their intensity, so add the oil gradually to taste.

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