Autumn Spiny Lobster Salad Rolls
with Sundried Tomato + Tarragon Aioli
by Chef Peter Calley of Culinary Hedonism
Chef Peter and I had the pleasure of collaborating on a Farm to Fork Family Brunch for a repeat client of ours. Our guests started off with a farm tour with Farmer Luke at Cyclops Farms. During their farm tour, we threw a wrench in the plans! We announced a Top Chef style cooking challenge. They had a few minutes to plan their menus with their team, shop for their ingredients on the farm and create an amazing farm-to-fork frittata! While they were shopping, Chef Peter decided to give them a little something to snack on... Autumn Salad Rolls with local Spiny Lobster. Enjoy this recipe below and some photos from our morning at Cyclops Farms!
Makes 12 large salad rolls
1 package rice paper (sold in any Asian grocery store and most high-end markets - get more than you need in case you mess a few up)
2-3 Spiny Lobsters, alive if possible
1 bunch chives
1.5 lbs carrots, peeled and shredded
4 stalks celery
1 bell pepper
1 bunch dill
1 fennel bulb
1 Portabella mushroom, sautéed or grilled
1 large beet, peeled
8 oz baby arugula
Extra virgin olive oil (I prefer California Olive oils)
1 lemon, zest and juice reserved
Flaky salt, such as Maldon to taste
Pepper to taste
For the Aioli:
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes (the ones packed in olive oil are best)
4 cloves garlic
1 bunch tarragon (don't even think about using the dried stuff) if you can't find it, sub basil
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
white balsamic vinegar (optional)
sea salt to taste
To make the aioli:
Make a paste out of the garlic cloves using a garlic press or the flat side of your knife. Add garlic, egg yolks, dijon mustard, lemon juice and zest to food processor. With the blade running, SLOWLY drizzle in the olive oil. You'll see the emulsion start to form. Be patient, no one wants to eat a broken aioli. Add sun-dried tomatoes and pulse a few more times until thoroughly incorporated. Season with salt to taste. If too thick, add a tablespoon of lemon juice, or white balsamic vinegar to thin the aioli. Taste again and make sure the seasoning is right on. Store in an airtight container for 2 days max. When ready to serve, roughly chop tarragon and mix in.
To Prep and cook your lobster:
Be careful when handling, they are called spiny lobsters for a reason...
Bring a large pot with a couple inches of water to a simmer. Use a steamer insert and place in pot.
If you bought live lobsters, you'll need to dispatch them before cooking. Place them in a freezer for 15 minutes to slow them down. Turn them over on a cutting board and using a chefs knife, plunge the knife into the middle of the carapace (body) and bring the knife down towards the head, splitting the head in half. Twist the tails off and keep the heads/body for making stock, soup, or crustacean butter if you want. Place lobster tails into pot and steam them for about 8 minutes. Tails will turn bright red and curl. Remove with tongs and rinse with cold water until cool enough to handle. Using a knife, split the tails in half and remove the meat. Roughly chop meat and and store in fridge until ready to use. Can be done one day ahead.
To make the Salad Rolls
You'll need to shred your carrots and beets. I use a box grater - works perfectly! Slice your fennel and celery as thinly as possible. I use a mandolin but you can certainly do it with a sharp knife too. Slice bell pepper and portabella mushroom into long strips. Slice chives into pieces about 1/8th - 1/16th inches.
Now, in a large mixing bowl, toss together all ingredients except for lobster. Lightly dress vegetables with olive oil, fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper. Don't over-dress the veggies, you just want the the oil, acid, and salt to enhance the flavor, not overpower it. Remember, you have an aioli to dip the rolls in.
Fill a saute pan with hot tap water. I use a sauté pan because I know the rice paper can easily lie flat and soak and I can keep the water warm on the stove on the low setting. One at a time, soak the rice paper until soft and pliable but not sticky and gummy - you'll know the difference. Practice soaking a couple until you know what consistencey to look for. Place soaked rice paper on a clean cutting board. Grab a small handful of your veggie mix and place in the center of the rice paper. Place chunks of lobster meat along the top. Gently lift the bottom while holding the mixture tightly with your fingers. Bring the bottom up and never the mixture. Lift the sides and fold them over - just like you're rolling a burrito. Using your fingers to tightly hold everything in place, roll the salad roll up the board to finish. You should end up with the seam side down and the lobster meat on top. Using a sharp knife and in one motion, slice the salad roll in half on a bias. Repeat until you've used all your veggies and lobster. Serve immediately with Aioli to dip the rolls in.