Exactly 3 years ago, I was in PEI for the first time celebrating our good friend Grant and his lovely girlfriend (now wife, of course) Jill’s nuptials. I had been dying to go for years and years but as a contractor who only makes money when they’re working, I had never found myself in a position to leave work over the summer, or with the money to do so. The stars aligned, which in hindsight they often did when we didn’t have a small child, and we loaded up the car and drove the 14 hours for the beaches, celebrations, seafood and friends that gathered in Prince Edward Island.
The second day we were there, we went out as a group to a seafood restaurant on the water. It was there that I first tasted a Lobster roll, and subsequently a Shrimp Roll. My world was blown open. So simple, it’s crisp buttery rolls that resembled little more than a hot dog bun (I later found out it was a hotdog bun), it’s filling barely able to stay in the bun without spilling over onto the table, my lap, all over my hands. The dressing on the roll, which I had always imagined to be heavy and somewhat macaroni-salad-like in terms of mayo, was light and bright and flecked with herbs. I must have mowed through another 4-5 in my 6 days on the Island. I left knowing nothing would ever compare, because time and place and company were all just right.
A gourmet take-out food shop near our home, The Red Apron, started serving Lobster/Shrimp rolls for lunch recently, and my cravings went full force, SPLAT against the wall, GOTTA HAVE IT NOW OR I’LL DIE. In the interest of saving money and learning how to make one just as I remembered, I decided I would take a shot at making my own. And since my PC Black Label Collection partner had sent a delicious Truffle Aioli in this month’s Black Box, I figured I was well on my way to something amazing. Also in the box was a Bacon Marmalade that we’ve been adding to just about everything these days; scones, corn salads, on toast with peanut butter (channeling Elvis)….
I bought lobster and shrimp to start experimenting and shockingly, I decided the shrimp roll was the real winner. The sweet succulent meat coated lightly in lemony tarragon-flecked aioli was simply put, THE SH*T. I must have eaten all four of them, plus all the lobster experiments all by my lonesome (my husband isn’t into shellfish… WHAT!? I know. Weird.). I’m not even sick of eating them yet…. and I’m worried that might be an indicator of a problem. However, a lobster/shrimp roll dependency is something I don’t feel too badly about. Let’s get to cooking, shall we?
Shrimp Rolls with Truffled Lemon Tarragon Aioli
makes 4 large rolls
I used the Truffle Aioli in this recipe because I love that funky flavour it brings to the sauce. If you’re not a fan, try the Classic Aioli from PC Black Label. It’s creamy and not too heavy making it a nice alternative to mayonnaise.
If you buy shrimp with the peels on, as I do, I like to save them and boil them in well-salted water for 45 minutes before I cook the shrimp. This gives your poaching liquid SO MUCH FLAVOUR and it will in turn give your shrimp much more flavour.
Truffled Lemon Tarragon Aioli
1/2 cup PC Black Label Collection Truffle Aioli
2 tbsp chopped tarragon
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
generous pinch salt
generous pinch pepper
2lbs raw wild shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 stalk celery, diced
1 tbsp minced chives + more for garnish
Truffled Tarragon Aioli
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
fresh ground pepper
4 top-split hot dog buns*
For the Aioli:
Mix all ingredients in a small dish and taste for seasoning. Add more salt or pepper if needed and if you like it tangier, add more lemon.
For the Rolls:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the shrimp and let cook for 5-6 minutes. Strain and rinse under cold water. Cut into 1-2″ chunks and toss with 1/4 cup of the aioli. Taste for lemon and salt and adjust if needed.Spread the remaining aioli on the sides and top of the buns. Place a large skillet on the stove over medium heat. Toast each aioli-coated bun on both sides AND top/bottom to ensure they won’t get soggy when filled with the shrimp. Let cool slightly so you can handle. Fill each bun with 1/4 of the shrimp mixture. Top with extra chives and a squeeze of lemon, if desire. Serve immediately. Leftover shrimp can keep in the fridge for 2 days.
*If you can’t find the top-split buns, buy regular hot dog buns and carefully cut off the sides of the bun to expose the tender crumb. This way, you can coat those open crumbs with the aioli and toast up to a buttery golden brown.
Disclaimer: I am part of the #PlayWithYourFood Campaign sponsored by Presidents Choice Black Label and receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. Regardless, I only work with brands I use personally and enjoy.