Lobster Buns with Shiso Pesto

Simpson Wong

Wong - NYC

For an Asian spin on the lobster roll, Simpson Wong trades in the traditional buttered hot-dog bun for fried Chinese bao buns. The buns can be found in Asian bakeries or in the freezer sections of Asian supermarkets.


8 servings


  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 whole lobster, about 1 1/2 pounds
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed shiso leaves, rinsed and dried
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, stems removed, rinsed and dried
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed basil leaves, stems removed, rinsed and dried
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed mint leaves, stems removed, rinsed and dried
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 bird’s-eye chili, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped Chinese celery or regular celery
  • Oil for frying
  • 8 Chinese buns
  • 16 thin slices seedless cucumber


Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook until soft and lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the garlic cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place the lobster in the water and cook for 7 minutes. Prepare an ice bath while the lobster cooks. When the lobster is done, transfer it to the ice bath to stop the cooking. When cool enough to handle, shell the lobster and cut the meat into 1/2-inch chunks. Reserve.

When the garlic and olive oil have cooled, transfer to a blender; add the shiso, cilantro, basil, mint, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and chili. Purée until smooth. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator until serving.

Toss the lobster meat with the celery. Add the pesto to taste and toss well to fully coat the lobster. Reserve.
In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat 6 inches of oil to 350ºF. Working in batches, fry the buns in the oil for about 2 minutes, turning them over several times to ensure even coloring. They should be crispy and golden brown on the outside, but soft on the inside. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate to drain.

To serve, slice the buns open. Line each bun with 2 cucumber slices and fill with a scoop of the lobster mixture.