Lobster In a Pinch

As a Connecticut native, I have a lot to say about lobster rolls. While I can’t claim to have been a big fan, it was an absolute, irrefutable fact that one such sandwich could ONLY be made with melted butter and steamed claw meat stuffed into a split-top bun. Served anywhere further than a mile from the shore, it should be regarded with suspicion. Better yet, it should be enjoyed at the beach for best results, with sand between your toes, wind in your hair, and the ocean filling the silence while you eat wordlessly with your lover.

Outside of that dreamy romance, as I got older, I found that the real world has other ideas. It turns out that there’s also a so-called Maine lobster roll that’s instead tossed with mayonnaise for a creamier, cooler richness, though that too should be a spartan affair. If you add things like chopped celery, onion, pickles, or carrots, let’s be honest: You just made expensive, luxury seafood indistinguishable from tuna salad. Some people call this Rhode Island-style, but I just call it an abomination.

Given there are so few ingredients and no where to hide extras, how can one accurately recreate the experience of a fresh, plump lobster roll without any animal products? To that, I say, “hold my bun and watch.”

Thick Sugimoto Donko shiitake mushroom caps offer the ideal meaty yet supple texture once rehydrated. Though smaller than Koshin, they’re the perfect size for tucking into a sandwich and filling every square inch with nuanced, umami and tanmi flavor. Making this recipe suitably lavish, tender artichoke bottoms join the party to replicate that buttery yet mild bite of fresh seafood. It’s a bit of a splurge, as a proper lobster roll should be.

On that note, it’s interesting to look back on how far such a humble crustacean has come. While lobster has become a prized delicacy in America since the early 1900s, prior to that it was so despised and devalued that it was literally served to prisoners. The general public regarded it as “sea trash”, with such overwhelming numbers washing up along the east coast that much of the catch was used as fertilizer. I have confidence that once word gets about plant-based lobster, it might enjoy a similar rise to fame and fortune.

And why not? Infused with the oceanic flavor of kelp and seasoned simply, these fresh vegetables taste downright decadent. Once you have the main meat of the matter ready to go, you can turn it into a Connecticut dream or Maine game in a snap- or both, if you can’t decide. While you could also go off the rails down the Rhode Island route, just don’t tell me about it. I won’t yuck your yum, but I think there’s no reason to mess with perfection here.

Yield: Makes 6 Sandwiches

Vegan Lobster Rolls

Vegan Lobster Rolls

Shiitake mushrooms paired with artichoke bottoms create an incredibly meaty, juicy, and delicate base for the oceanic flavors associated with classic lobster rolls. Whether you want them buttery or creamy, you're gonna love these sandwiches.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Additional Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 30 minutes


Lobster Filling:

  • 2 Cups Water
  • 2 Ounces Fresh Cut Kelp or 2 Tablespoons Dried Instant Wakame
  • 1 (2.47-Ounce) Package Dried Sugimoto Donko Shiitake Mushrooms
  • 1 (13.75) Can Artichoke Bottoms in Brine, Undrained

Maine-Style Option:

  • 1 Tablespoon White Miso Paste
  • 1/4 Cup Vegan Mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice

Connecticut-Style Option:

  • 1/4 Cup Vegan Butter, Melted
  • 1 Tablespoon White Miso Paste

To Assemble:

  • 6 Split Top Hotdog Buns, Toasted
  • 1/4 Cup Chives or Scallions, Thinly Sliced


  1. To prepare the filling, combine the water, kelp or wakame, shiitake mushrooms, and artichokes with brine in a small saucepan. The liquid should cover all of the ingredients.
  2. Set over medium heat and bring to a boil, then cover and remove from the stove. Let cool completely and place in the fridge to continue marinating overnight, or at least 8 hours. The longer you can wait, the better, up to 2 days.
  3. Drain away the excess liquid and remove as much of the kelp or wakame as possible, reserving it for another recipe (I love it in salads or pesto.) Don't worry about getting the pieces completely clean though; you just want to take away the bulk of the seaweed. If you really love the flavor though, feel free to keep more or even all of it in.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for your chosen style. Add the lobster filling and toss to coat.
  5. Stuff the filling into your toasted buns and top with chives or scallions. Serve warm or chilled, and enjoy.


This makes enough filling for one of the style options. If you want to make both fillings, cut the quantities in half for the Maine and Connecticut styles, and divide them equally between two bowls of the "lobster."

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 286Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 544mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 3gSugar: 5gProtein: 7g

All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.

This post was made possible as a collaboration with SUGIMOTO Co. My opinions can not be bought and all content is original. This page may contain affiliate links; thank you for supporting my blog!

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