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  • The Chopping Blog

Poor Man's Lobster Rolls

Posted by Biz on Apr 4, 2019

I was such a picky eater growing up. I remember summers at my grandparents’ house in Virginia. My grandpa would go crabbing and bring home bushels of crabs that my grandma would then boil in giant pots on her kitchen stove. 

I would help tape newspaper to the picnic tables and help carry the crabs with the help of my twin sister to the tables, and carefully tip the bushel over until the table was covered in steaming blue crab.  

Did I eat any of it? Nope. But I loved getting the crab meat out for my family and being praised when I could pull out all the claw meat in one piece. 

It wasn’t until my thirties that I even tried seafood for the first time. When my husband was “wooing” me, he took me to fancy restaurants I never would have afforded on my own. Um, turns out I love seafood! Especially expensive seafood! Lobster, king crab, Chilean sea bass, halibut, blue fin ahi tuna. What I didn’t like was the price tag of trying to recreate these dishes at home. 

About six years ago, my husband and I decided it was a good idea to drive to Austin, Texas from Chicago to visit his son. It was the longest drive of our lives! We were so excited once we hit the border of Texas, we shouted “we are in Texas – whoop!” But we legit still had like five hours to go once we hit that border. 

While the drive was long, I kept thinking about all the cool food trucks we were going to visit. At the time, Chicago was still having arguments about where and when food trucks could be in the city, so I was so excited that Austin had dozens and dozens of food trucks.

One thing I didn’t consider? That food trucks usually open up late at night – like right when bars are going getting ready to close. And somehow my husband didn’t like the idea of going out at midnight to get food truck food. 

On our last day there, we found a food truck that was open at lunch time. And how ironic that in Austin, Texas the food truck that we found was for lobster rolls! I’d never had a lobster roll, mainly because I don’t like mayonnaise. I know – I don’t like mayo or onions! But they had an option for tarragon butter and that was awesome. I wasn’t even looking at the price because I was so excited to finally be eating food from a food truck, that I nearly choked on my lobster roll when they handed us four lobster rolls and said, “That will be $88.”  

I’ve thought about lobster rolls on and off over the years since then. Now that it’s finally starting to feel a tiny bit like spring in Chicago, my menu planning is leaning toward lighter foods. While lobster is out of my grocery budget, shrimp is not!  

Here is my tip about shrimp in Chicago, or any place where you live where you can’t get fresh shrimp. Buy it frozen. The “fresh” shrimp you buy in the seafood section of the deli has all been defrosted for your convenience, and usually costs a lot more per pound. Shrimp defrosts so quickly, so just keep some in your freezer for nights when you want to make this simple “poor man’s” lobster roll. 


My son-in-law's dad happened to be over the day I made these. I handed him one, and he looked me straight in the eyes and said, “That’s the best sandwich I’ve had in 20 years!”  

This dish will be perfect for a light dinner, or even cut in half as appetizers at your next BBQ. That is, if the weather finally gets about 50 degrees in Chicago and stays there! 

Poor Man's Lobster Rolls

For four Shrimp Rolls: 

  • 12 ounces of raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Zest from one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried minced onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 4 good rolls, like Martin’s potato rolls
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Promise light (you can use butter too!) 

shrimprollmiseHeat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Add a tablespoon of the Promise light to the pan. Add the shrimp and cook for about 1 ½ minutes per side, or until cooked through and opaque. 


While the shrimp cooks, whisk the Greek yogurt, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, onion and cilantro. Set aside.


When the shrimp are done, remove from pan and set aside. 


Add the second tablespoon of Promise light and once the butter starts to sizzle, add the potato rolls and brown on both the cut and sealed side until toasted – about a minute per side.


To assemble the shrimp rolls, spread some the of the Greek yogurt aioli on both sides of the bun, add the cooked shrimp, drizzle with more aioli and chopped cilantro and enjoy!



These are light, buttery, bright with the hit of lemon zest and so delicious. Please let me know in the comments if you try these!

Question of the Day? Favorite seafood – go!

If you like seafood, check out these upcoming classes at The Chopping Block:

Lincoln Square

4/11/19 New England Seafood Party

4/27/19 Seafood 101: Spring Menu


Merchandise Mart

4/17/19 New England Seafood Party



Topics: seafood, shrimp, sandwich, lobster, New England Lobster Party, Recipes, roll

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