Welcome back to The Bite, Sheepshead Bites’ weekly column where we explore the foodstuffs of Sheepshead Bay. Each week we check out a different offering from one of the many restaurants, delis, food carts, bakeries, butchers, fish mongers, or grocers in our neighborhood. If it’s edible, we’ll take a bite.
Ever have an “Angry Lobster?” No, me either. As a man, I didn’t think I could experience an angry lobster. I’ve given a few in my time and liked it, so when I saw that Celemente’s Maryland Crab House had “angry lobster roll” on the menu, I knew I had to give it a try.
Lobster rolls are standard New England fare. In New England, a traditional lobster roll contains the cooked meat of a steamed lobster which is cut into chunks and tossed with just enough Hellman’s mayonnaise to hold it together. Traditionally it is served stuffed into a side-split, lightly toasted and buttered, white bread hot dog roll.
To the best of my knowledge, and after a cursory internet search, there seems to be no culinary definition of an “angry lobster.” Acclaimed Chef David Burke has a recipe for an angry lobster that cuts a whole live lobster into pieces and cooks it in hot spices and flavored oils. The crown prince of New England’s culinary world, Jasper White, has a very similar angry lobster recipe in his repertoire. Apart from that, it’s a crap shoot.
To add to the confusion, many sushi restaurants around here serve an “angry lobster roll” which usually consists of some sort of tempura, topped with lobster salad and caviar. Full disclosure here, I don’t eat at sushi restaurants. I’ve never taken part in a Japanese angry lobster. Wait a minute – I have, but that’s a story for a much different website.
Clemente’s Angry Lobster Roll is none of that. After all – this is a Maryland Crab House, not New England and certainly not sushi.
An “Angry Lobster Roll” ($18.95) is described on the menu as “cold chunks of fresh lobster meat in our chipotle remoulade on a fresh potato roll served with French fries.” And that’s exactly what it is. Large chunks of lobster meat that are tossed in a very mild remoulade sauce.
Time for today’s first cooking lesson. So what’s a remoulade sauce? Basically it’s a souped-up mayonnaise. It’s a French recipe that usually adds mustard to mayonnaise. Often, minced onions or garlic are also included in the sauce, as well as capers. For a hint of sweetness, it is not unusual for gherkins to be chopped and added to the mixture. Here Clemente’s loses the onions, capers and gherkins and probably the mustard too, and adds a little bit of chipolte pepper and I think a little adobo sauce, to create their special sauce. Romoulade sauce is traditionally used in Cajun and Creole cooking, which centers around Louisiana, not Baltimore.
Lesson two, chipolte peppers are smoked ripe jalapeño peppers that can be dried but are often sold canned in adobo sauce. And the last lesson for today, adobo sauce is a spicy, dark red Mexican sauce made from ground chiles, herbs, garlic, tomatoes and vinegar. If you’re using a canned chipolte, why not use the sauce as well?
Clemente’s tosses all that together to make their version of remoulade and adds the lobster. Then they lightly toast a potato flour based hot dog roll, line it with iceberg lettuce and top it with the lobster salad. Then they add some chopped fresh parsley put it on a plate and serve it along side some barely salted French Fries.
It was damn good. Sitting on Clemente’s back deck over looking the water, my taste buds were immediately whisked away to the shores of Cape Cod. I’ve eaten this before on my cousin’s deck overlooking Hyannis Port harbor. I remember that night so clearly. We had huge bowls of lobster salad that my aunt spooned lovingly into warm buns as fast as we could eat them. Our bliss was only interrupted when her sister-in-law arrived and tasted the salad exclaiming – “You made this with Miracle Whip again, Eunice, didn’t you?” To which my aunt replied in her best Bostonian, “I knew these New Yohker’s, wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.” “Ayuh,” nodded the sister.
Well, Clemente’s Angry Lobster Roll, may not be from New England, it may not be from Louisiana, and it may not even be from Maryland itself. But it is from Sheepshead Bay where we have our own way of doing things. An angry lobster roll is mighty fine eating. See you on the deck.
Clemente’s Maryland Crab House, 3939 Emmons Ave, 718-646-7373
I usually don’t comment on the address, but this is confusing. I would never have called that Emmons Avenue. I guess it’s a legacy from when the Belt Parkway split Sheepshead Bay in two. Clemente’s is located on a strip of road – unmapped in Google – that the lay person would consider Shore Parkway North. They’re east of the UA theater on Knapp Street and Shore Parkway.