i sometimes dream about lobster rolls; often i wish i were enjoying one. i picture the idyllic coast of Maine, a gentle summer breeze, friends sitting around a long, paper-covered table, cracking into giant lobsters and drinking beer and laughing… butter is involved, crusty rolls, and maybe corn on the cob. in my mind, delicious lobster is bringing people together and making them really happy. –am i the only one who daydreams about food in this way? anyway, lobster rolls are supposed to made “just so,” and there are purists and there are rules.
i don’t even care, i just want to eat one!
but lobster is expensive. i haven’t splurged on any since February 14th. in the spirit of the budget-conscious, yet taste-appreciative, here is a delicious sandwich that will help fill the lobster-roll-shaped hole in your heart. and it takes all of 15 minutes to get on the table. less, if you have a kitchen helper! in these shrimp rolls, the shrimp is warm and tender, dressed lightly with a creamy sauce spiked with smokey paprika. i think it’s perfect in a warm, gently-toasted bun with cool slips of red onion and a small tower of potato chips nearby (or a salad — whichever you feel most strongly about).
Trader Joe’s really makes the most perfect hot dog buns, if you can get your hands on a package — they are soft, but sturdy, they’re never longer than the brawtwurst you might tuck inside, and best of all: they aren’t pre-split, so you can split them from the top, lobster-roll style!*
my lobster roll fantasy stays alive, but these shrimp rolls are one of my all-time favorite sandwiches. you don’t even need a recipe to make them, but here’s something to get you started. there is pleasure in the really simple things, i think. get dinner on the table without a fuss, enjoy your summer evenings doing something else…. kick off your sandals, dip your feet in the pool, or have some friends over to play the best board game ever. and keep plenty of beer cooling in the fridge. enjoy!
*i don’t get money from Trader Joe’s to say this — but they do make my favorite store-bought hamburger/hot dog buns
shrimp rolls with smoked paprikaserves 4 adapted from Martha Stewart
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 3 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tsp red wine vinegar
- coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- 1 1/2 pounds small shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 4 hot dog buns
- leaves of romaine or butter lettuce
- thinly sliced red onion
if possible, try to bring your shrimp to room temperature (for about half an hour) before cooking. they will cook more evenly, and sweat less, which is important for a creamy — rather than soupy — sauce. i spread them out in a single layer on paper towels or a clean kitchen towel so that i can pat them completely dry before cooking. even if you skip the room-temperature step, be sure to pat the shrimp dry. we’re aiming to sear the shrimp quickly, not steam it.
meanwhile, combine mayonnaise, 2 teaspoons of the paprika and red wine vinegar in a bowl. season with some coarse salt and ground pepper.
heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium. add shrimp, tossing occasionally, and season with remaining 1 teaspoon paprika and salt and pepper. pre-cooked shrimp need only to be heated through, just a few minutes in the pan — cook raw shrimp until opaque throughout, about 5 minutes.
at the same time, heat rolls in a lightly oiled skillet over medium, flipping frequently, until just browned.
remove shrimp from heat, and drain any excess liquid before adding shrimp to mayonnaise mixture. stir to combine.
cut slits into the top of the rolls, and fill with lettuce, shrimp mixture and red onion.