Rich Man’s Lobsta Roll

The summer beach vacation is a distinct pleasure – the sun, the sand, the seafood make it something that teases our imagination all year and inspires memories that comfort us forever.   For many Northeasterners, a classic experience that stands out in particular is the lobster roll, a marvelously simple combination of lightly-seasoned lobster served on a toasted buttered roll.  If you’ve vacationed anywhere from Maine down to Maryland, chances are you’ve enjoyed a lobster roll and count the days until your next visit.  Just for the lobsta roll if for nothing else.

With those memories sparkling, the passage below from one of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe mysteries (A Window for Death) was of interest.  In it we read of a feast Fritz Brenner, the gourmet sleuth’s personal chef, creates:

That afternoon, preparing for one of Wolfe’s favorite hot-weather meals, Fritz had been collecting eight baby lobsters, eight avocados, and a bushel of young leaf lettuce.  When he had introduced them to the proper amounts of chives, onion, parsley, tomato paste, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, paprika, pimentos and dry white wine, he would have Brazilian lobster salad as edited by Wolfe, and not even Wolfe could have it all stowed away by half past eight.

From that description, Brazilian Lobster Salad bears a striking resemblance to what you’d find inside a lobster roll, except maybe a bit fancier, as it was intended for a wealthy man’s table.  Therefore, when the recipe appeared in The Nero Wolfe Cookbook, it was destined to make a summer visit here.

Although the original instructions don’t include such measures, I accompanied mine with toasted bread, to make this even closer to a lobster roll.  After acquiring a baguette at the local bakery, I sliced it, brushed the bread with olive oil and put it under the broiler briefly, until it was toasted.  Then I rubbed a large garlic clove on the slices.  Fussy, perhaps, but after splurging on the lobster, why not?

It’s unclear what makes this lobster salad Brazilian.  Maybe the lobsters were supposed to be from Brazil (if so, I cheated, as mine were from Maine).  It’s possible the recipe itself is Brazilian, although an admittedly cursory internet search didn’t reveal anything.

No matter where this recipe originated, it put me in a happy place.  A few blissful moments had me back at the shore, although tomorrow’s a work day.  It’s a classic lobsta roll, with a Newport twist perhaps.


Brazilian Lobster Salad

  • 2 large, ripe avocados
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion (*1)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 6 tablespoons dry white wine (*2)
  • 3 cups cooked lobster meat (*3)
  • 2 heads young Bibb lettuce
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup homemade mayonnaise (*4)
  • 3 pimentos (*5)
  • paprika (*6)

Peel the avocados, cut them in half lengthwise and slice them very thin.  Put the slices in a large bowl and sprinkle them with the chives, onion, parsley, dry mustard and wine.  Refrigerate for thirty minutes or more.

Pick over the lobster meat for bits of shell, and wash and dry the lettuce leaves.  Mix together the tomato paste and 4 tablespoons of the mayonnaise.  Arrange the lettuce into round beds on four salad plates and place one tablespoon of the pink mayonnaise at the center of each.  Top each with the slices of avocado.

Mix the remaining mayonnaise with the lobster meat and head this on top of the avocado.  Arrange the pimentos on top of the lobster meat and dust with paprika.


1 – Or, you can use a shallot.  That’s my preference, of course.

2 – I chose chardonnay, my favorite white.

3 – Lobster is notoriously expensive, so if you’d rather forego my profligacy, scallops would be a good replacement; expensive, but not ruinously so.  Shrimp still is a bit pricey, but now we’re approaching reason.  Finally, you could use surimi (aka “Sea Legs”).  You’d miss some of lobster’s panache, but it’d bring you to the same destination, more or less.

4 – As I went to all the expense of buying lobster, I also went to all the trouble of making my own mayonnaise (recipe below).  While it was better than what may be found in jars, the enhanced quality isn’t quite worth all the additional work.

5  – I don’t particularly care for pimentos, so I chopped instead a few cherry tomatoes.

6 – As this is a seafood dish, I used Old Bay instead of paprika.  It seemed a fitting choice for Fourth of July weekend.



  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 cup tarragon wine vinegar (or lime juice)
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup good salad oil
  • 1 cup sour cream

Bring all ingredients to room temperature.  In a large bowl beat the yolks with a whisk until they are lemon yellow.  Add the salt, mustard and half the vinegar (or lime juice).

Combine the oils and, beating the eggs steadily, drizzle in the oil drop by drop.  As the mixture begins to thicken, add the oil in larger amounts until it all is incorporated.  Beat in the remaining vinegar quickly.  Fold in the sour cream and chill for at least half an hour. (*1)


1 – When you fold in the sour cream, the mixture will be lumpy and will seem not to be thick enough.  Don’t worry – for one thing, the texture is fine, as it will smooth as it chills, and you definitely do not want to over-stir it.  More important, the mixture will thicken in the cold, so by the time you extract it from the fridge,  it’ll be close to what you’d expect.  Wish I had known this ahead of time, as it would’ve saved me so much worrying.



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