What Fish Tastes Like Lobster?

Lobster is a delicacy we all crave time and time again. Whether it is in the form of a lobster roll or a butter-drenched broiled tail, people can’t seem to get enough of this light and buttery seafood treat. Unfortunately, lobster isn’t exactly priced for the masses. Despite the fact that lobster was once used as prison food, it is now in a totally different culinary class, leaving many people without the opportunity to enjoy lobster regularly due to cost. This is why many people often seek out fish that can mimic the taste and texture of lobster. Is there a fish that actually tastes like lobster?

So, what Fish Tastes Like a Lobster?

There may be many fish in the sea, but very few taste just like lobster. Experts agree that the often overlooked Monkfish is the only type of fish that bears a similar texture and taste to real lobster. With a very firm and bright-white flesh, Monkfish boasts a sweet and mild flavor that is quite similar to lobster. Unlike other cuts of fish, Monkfish does not boast a “fishy” taste nor does it flake too much the way Cod can. Monkfish is so similar in flavor and texture to lobster that it is often referred to as poor man’s lobster. Of course, it is important to bear in mind that the meat of the Monkfish that is most similar to lobster is found in the tail. The tail meat is said to be much sweeter and not as rubbery as meat found right near the head.

Unfortunately, there is one small catch when it comes to Monkfish. It may not exactly be a poor man’s lobster alternative in the modern-day. Believe it or not, Monkfish is actually becoming more expensive than our beloved crustaceans. As more and more people catch onto the value and flavor of Monkfish, it is being sought out on a more regular basis. In many cases, the demand for Monkfish has led to overfishing, which also works to drive up prices and make the fish more difficult to obtain.

What Is “Poor Man’s Lobster?”

“Poor man’s lobster” is often used in reference to Monkfish; however, many people use the term as a catch-all for preparing any cut of fish to taste similar to lobster. Generally, “poor man’s lobster” is taking a cut of fish and boiling it in a mixture of water, sugar, and salt in a saucepan for several minutes. Once the fish is boiled, it is then removed from the pan, drenched in butter and lemon, then placed on a broiler pan. The fish is then broiled on high for a number of minutes and then removed. It is typically served up with plenty of melted butter.

The idea behind soaking any type of fish in a sugar mixture and coating it in butter is to help the fish to achieve a sweet and tender lightness like a piece of lobster. As mentioned above, Monkfish is the best choice when making “poor man’s lobster” as it is the only type of fish that can actually mimic the unique texture and flavor of a fresh piece of lobster. However, that hasn’t stopped people from experimenting with all different types of fish. In fact, there are a few other types of fish that can be prepared to taste similar to lobster.

Other Types Of Fish That Taste Like Lobster

Monkfish may be the clear winner when it comes to a piece of fish that really tastes like lobster. However, Monkfish isn’t always readily available and can be as pricey as a piece of lobster. What other types of fish taste like lobster? In general, many people find that cod, halibut, and pollock can all be prepared to taste like lobster. Cod is often a top pick among consumers because it is available at nearly every grocery store and is pretty cost-effective for a family.

When prepared using the “poor man’s lobster” method above, it can bear a nice sweetness that mimics lobster. Pollock is also a solid choice and is often used in creating imitation lobster meat and crab meat overseas. In terms of flavor, halibut is not quite as close as monkfish, cod, or pollock, but most fish lovers note that it does have a nice delicate texture that can prove quite lobster-like when prepared in just the right manner.

Obviously, it is harder to pass a piece of fish off as lobster when you’re just serving up a fillet. Monkfish accomplishes this, but few others truly taste similar. However, when preparing a lobster roll or dishes such as lobster bisque, cheaper filets can pass as lobster, especially if you’re keen on seasoning and going the extra mile to garner that lobster taste.

Why is Lobster So Expensive?

Why do people want to know what fish tastes like a lobster in the first place? Well, because as mentioned above, lobster can be pretty pricey. It isn’t exactly something you’re going to whip up on a weeknight just because the craving strikes. In fact,  outside of coastal towns in the US and abroad, lobster is typically reserved for celebrations, special occasions, or an expensive night out at a fancy restaurant. The question is, why is lobster so expensive? Why did these sea crustaceans go from prison food to upper-class delicacy in such a short amount of time? It all has to do with farming, transportation, and consumer perception.

Lobster Cannot Be Farmed

Most seafood dishes and types of fish can be farmed with ease. Unfortunately, lobsters cannot be farmed in the same manner as cod or monkfish. As a result, when a person wants to eat a lobster, they’ll have to buy lobster tails or whole lobsters that have been freshly caught from the sea. While this may be the ideal way to garner a lobster, it does make the lobster more expensive than if it were farmed in a different environment. Additionally, lobster is expensive because demand is very high, meaning there is quite a bit of competition which serves to drive prices up even higher.

Learn: How To Use a Lobster Trap

Public Expectation and Perception

Are we to blame for the expense of lobster? In many ways, yes. Public perception and consumer expectation has driven the price of lobster up significantly. People see lobster as a luxury food, something that’s worthy of a celebration or a special night out. Because of this, lobster can be sold at a much higher price, as people will pay regardless of cost. When people expect something to cost more, they tend to be willing to pay more as a special treat. Lobster is a delicacy, but cuts of fish like cod or pollock are not. Monkfish is now seeing the same problem as lobster itself, which is why the cost of this lobster-like fish is skyrocketing.

Transporting Lobster Isn’t Easy

Lobster spoils far quicker than most other types of meat. Still, most lobster we eat regularly is shipped quite a distance. Keeping lobsters alive during that transport process is very expensive. Despite these measures, many lobsters will die or spoil en route to their destination. The cost of these spoiled and dead lobsters is passed on to you when you order a lobster dinner. The whole logistical process is a bit of a headache, which makes lobster inherently more expensive than a typical cut of fish.

Can Fish Really Taste Like Lobster?

Obviously nothing is a true replacement for a piece of lobster, but Monkfish is as close as you can get, followed by cod, halibut, and pollock. While it may not be as satisfying as dipping a lobster tail into a crock of butter, many of these fish make fine substitutes when costs or availability are a factor.

It all comes down to the type of fish you choose, preparation, and your overall expectations. If you can get a nice piece of monkfish, you’ll just be pleasantly surprised by the lobster-like qualities this monster-esque fish can bring to your palate!


The founder of Catch and Fillet, “Chum Charlie”, has been writing articles within the fishing community for over 9 years. He got his nickname due to his preference for chumming while he is fishing. Chumming is a common practice that is used in the ocean to lure various types of fish to the boat. Chum can consist of various fish parts that attract fish due to its overbearing odor.

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