The Maine lobster roll has long been something of a mystery to me. They’re certainly tasty. But why take an ingredient like lobster, which has a rather sweet and delicate flavor, and then proceed to smother it in mayonnaise? Anything would taste good smothered in seasoned mayonnaise.
I’ve pioneered (so far as I know) an alternative with a uniquely Michigan twist: smoked whitefish. Making the whitefish roll is even easier than making the lobster roll linked above (it’s the recipe I used, with some minor variations), provided that you have access to smoked whitefish. It won’t work with fresh whitefish for the same reasons that I feel that lobster falls short of expectations: it’s too mild.
It would have made a lot more sense to post this before Labor Day, but the end of summer and the yearly move-in process put a kink in my plans. Plus, who wants to read two posts about whitefish in a row? Anyway, here goes:
First, debone the whitefish. It should flake pretty easily, but there are a lot of small bones to watch out for. Swallowing one kinda kills the dining experience, so put in some effort here. Remember, it’s easier than cooking a lobster.
Next, make the mayo. It’s a simple process that everyone should learn, but it does require some patience. While the recipe calls for a canola/olive oil mix, I’d probably go with straight canola if I made this again. The hint of olive oil somehow didn’t seem to fit in.
To complete the roll, take the whitefish and mayonnaise and mix them together, place the mixture in a bun, and top with arugula.
I’m not sure if I’d call this a culinary breakthrough, but I certainly enjoyed it. The smoky saltiness of the whitefish cuts through the mayonnaise, but isn’t overpowering. And no, the arugula wasn’t added because I’m a food elitist; I thought its bitterness would contrast with the filling nicely. The weakest link here was probably the bun, which probably should have been a fresh hoagie bun or something a bit more distinctive. Next time I get my hands on some whitefish, I’ll experiment.