Poor Man’s Lobster

Poor Man’s Lobster – What a great meal to put together for a dinner party or just a quiet night at home. The way this seafood is prepared brings out the freshness in the cod with no “fishy” taste. This recipe really does make cod taste like lobster!

Poor Man's Lobster - What a great meal to put together for a dinner party or just a quiet night at home. The way this is prepared brings out the freshness in the cod with no "fishy" taste. It really does taste like lobster!

I absolutely love lobster. Every time my husband and I are out for a special dinner my mouth starts watering at the thought of this scrumptious delicacy (I live in the Midwest remember) being on the restaurant’s specials board. But even when it is, I seem to always pass it up due to the high price tag and the guilt I’d feel following the meal. Sad, right?

Well, to turn my frown upside down I’ve learned how to make a mean broiled lobster tail for special occasions at home (buying and preparing it yourself costs roughly half of what you’d pay at a restaurant around here) and for a family dinner during the week, I opt for my tried and true broiled cod recipe we call Poor Man’s Lobster here in Wisconsin.

The cod, when prepared as instructed below, has the texture and consistency of lobster and tastes almost like the real thing. I promise it will not taste “fishy” and your house will not reek of seafood for the next several days. People who don’t even like fish, like this recipe, and it’s been known to please even the pickiest eaters – AKA my children.

I still haven’t shared the best part of this recipe. You know those days when dinner sneaks up on you or you’ve been at work all day and realize you never took any meat or fish out of the freezer to feed your family that evening?

Yep, you know what I’m talking about. Well, this recipe is the ticket because you don’t need to thaw the cod beforehand. In fact, I prefer NOT to thaw the cod when I make this. Keep reading and I’ll tell you why.

Poor Man’s Lobster is easy, delicious and healthy (for the most part). If you want to substitute the sugar with Splenda, fine. If you want to use less butter, fine. But don’t substitute margarine for the butter – it has too watery of a consistency. Roll up your sleeves, get your ingredients together and let’s make some Poor Man’s Lobster! It’s pretty safe to say this could easily become a staple meal in your home after you try it!

For this recipe, you’ll need 6 (6 oz.) frozen cod fillets, 1 cup sugar, 6 cups water, 2 tablespoons salt, lemon pepper seasoning, paprika, 1/2 lemon and melted butter.

Poor Man's Lobster - What a great meal to put together for a dinner party or just a quiet night at home. The way this is prepared brings out the freshness in the cod with no "fishy" taste. It really does taste like lobster!
Begin by covering a broiling pan with aluminum foil. Shape the foil to the grooves of your pan to catch the excess liquid and spray with foil with nonstick spray.
Next you’ll need 6 cups of water in a bowl, salt and sugar.
Poor Man's Lobster - What a great meal to put together for a dinner party or just a quiet night at home. The way this is prepared brings out the freshness in the cod with no "fishy" taste. It really does taste like lobster!
Add a cup of sugar to the bowl of water.
Poor Man's Lobster - What a great meal to put together for a dinner party or just a quiet night at home. The way this is prepared brings out the freshness in the cod with no "fishy" taste. It really does taste like lobster!
Now add two tablespoons of salt and stir.
Poor Man's Lobster - What a great meal to put together for a dinner party or just a quiet night at home. The way this is prepared brings out the freshness in the cod with no "fishy" taste. It really does taste like lobster!
Put the frozen cod fillets into a large saucepan. I used 7 fillets since mine were a little smaller than 6 oz. each. Pour the water mixture over the fillets.
Poor Man's Lobster - What a great meal to put together for a dinner party or just a quiet night at home. The way this is prepared brings out the freshness in the cod with no "fishy" taste. It really does taste like lobster!
Bring the water to a boil for 3 minutes. Here’s where the frozen fillets come into play. When you boil the fillets while frozen they’re less likely to break apart during the boiling step.
Poor Man's Lobster - What a great meal to put together for a dinner party or just a quiet night at home. The way this is prepared brings out the freshness in the cod with no "fishy" taste. It really does taste like lobster!
Remove the cod from the water with tongs taking care not to break the fillets in half. Place the cod fillets on the foil-lined broiler pan. If you use something other than a broiler pan (like a cookie sheet) make sure to blot the excess water off of the fish. Using a broiler pan prevents the fish from sitting in the excess liquid when in the oven.
Poor Man's Lobster - What a great meal to put together for a dinner party or just a quiet night at home. The way this is prepared brings out the freshness in the cod with no "fishy" taste. It really does taste like lobster!
Brush some melted butter on both sides of the fillets.
Poor Man's Lobster - What a great meal to put together for a dinner party or just a quiet night at home. The way this is prepared brings out the freshness in the cod with no "fishy" taste. It really does taste like lobster!
Sprinkle on some lemon pepper seasoning and paprika.
Poor Man's Lobster - What a great meal to put together for a dinner party or just a quiet night at home. The way this is prepared brings out the freshness in the cod with no "fishy" taste. It really does taste like lobster!
Squeeze some lemon juice over all of the fillets and put under the broiler for about 7 minutes or until fish flakes with a fork. I always broil mine on low.
Poor Man's Lobster - What a great meal to put together for a dinner party or just a quiet night at home. The way this is prepared brings out the freshness in the cod with no "fishy" taste. It really does taste like lobster!
Here is my observer. She colors while she waits for her dinner. Notice her favorite puppy next to her. He never leaves her side. Puppy gets baths weekly.
Poor Man's Lobster - What a great meal to put together for a dinner party or just a quiet night at home. The way this is prepared brings out the freshness in the cod with no "fishy" taste. It really does taste like lobster!
Alright, where were we? Keep checking to see how the fillets are coming. When the fish turns an opaque white, you’ll want to pull the fillets out of the oven.
Poor Man's Lobster - What a great meal to put together for a dinner party or just a quiet night at home. The way this is prepared brings out the freshness in the cod with no "fishy" taste. It really does taste like lobster!
Ummm, yum. This is looking really good. I love dressing up fish with lemon.
Poor Man's Lobster - What a great meal to put together for a dinner party or just a quiet night at home. The way this is prepared brings out the freshness in the cod with no "fishy" taste. It really does taste like lobster!
Serve the fish with some melted butter and enjoy!
Poor Man's Lobster - What a great meal to put together for a dinner party or just a quiet night at home. The way this is prepared brings out the freshness in the cod with no "fishy" taste. It really does taste like lobster!
And here’s my official taste tester who always feels the need to visit MY plate after she’s finished with hers. Yes, I did use a fork to eat my dinner – she obviously has no time for that. Hope your family enjoys this recipe as much as ours does!
5.0 from 3 reviews
Poor Man's Lobster
 
 
Ingredients
  • 6 (6 oz. cod fillets)
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • Melted butter (to brush fillets and for dipping)
  • ½ lemon
  • Paprika and lemon-pepper seasoning to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat your broiler.
  2. Wrap a broiler pan with aluminum foil (easier clean up) and spray with nonstick spray. Make sure you shape the aluminum foil to the grooves on your broiler pan so the excess liquid has somewhere to go and your fish doesn’t have to sit in it.
  3. Place the fish in a large saucepan. Mix together the water, sugar, and salt. Pour the water-mixture over the fish. The water-mixture should fully cover the fish, if it doesn’t add more water. Bring the water to a boil over a medium-high heat. Boil for 3 to 5 minutes depending on the thickness of the cod fillet.
  4. Remove fillets from water, brush with melted butter, and season with lemon-pepper and paprika. Squeeze some lemon juice over the top.
  5. Broil for about 7 minutes on low or until the fillets are opaque and flake with a fork. Serve with melted butter.

Comments

  1. I grew up on the west coast next to the ocean but didn’t appreciate seafood until I was much older and wiser. This recipe makes my mouth water. It looks awesome. I’ve never tried lobster but I am going to cook this recipe in the coming week and can officially say I’ve tried poor man’s lobster. I love cod! Yum. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

  2. Stephanie says:

    I’ve been looking for a recipe for what seems to be forever! I love “Fish Fry Friday’s” and every week I wish there was a way I could make this at home. Thank you for posting this! 🙂

    • That’s awesome, Stephanie. I sure hope you enjoy it! It’s definitely my favorite way to prepare cod at home!

      • Sharon e Davis says:

        Am I reading this correctly? There are 205 grams of carbs per serving? I am diabetic, could you leave out the sugar?

        • When I switched over to a new recipe card plug-in some strange things happened with the nutritional information on my posts. I’m going through as quickly as possible to remove the information because it is incorrect. So sorry about that!

  3. Monique says:

    This looks amazing!!! Do you know if this would work with other types of fish? I keep tilapia on hand and would love to know if you’ve tried this with any other fish.

    • Hi Monique! I’ve only used cod with this recipe. I’m wondering if tilapia might be a bit too delicate for the boiling water process that’s used at the beginning of the recipe. I would love to hear how it turns out if you decide to use tilapia. Believe it or not, we just had this tonight for dinner! It’s one of our favorites!

  4. Kimberly says:

    I’m wondering if this could be done without sugar or sugar substitute and still come out tasting like lobster?

    • Hi Kimberly, I don’t see why you couldn’t use sugar substitute. You’re essentially just sweetening the water the fish boils in before you broil it. Good luck!

  5. Jill Stockwell says:

    Hi Sara,
    Should I adjust the water, sugar, salt ratios if I am only preparing 1 lb. of cod? Making it just for me

    • Hi Jill! You could try adjusting the ingredients, but you’ll want to make sure you cover the cod with the water mixture regardless of how many pieces of fish you’re preparing. Good luck and I hope you enjoy it!

  6. Just made this – delicious, and since I didn’t “dip” in butter, it was rather healthy with a small salad. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Annette Harrison says:

    I have used both cod and haddock with this recipe and like it either way. I’m also from Wisconsin, and have made this since the 1970’s.

  8. sherri garner says:

    I use olive oil with truffle salt and herbs de province. All ingriedents go onto a parchment paper, gently coat the cod and place in the center of a large square. Grind on lemon pepper to taste. Read about en papilote, which is a great way to cook. and fold and seal the paper. Cook 10-12 minues in toaster oven or oven. You can also put in some sliced mushrooms.

    Why use unhealthy sugar if you do not need to?. Cod is delicious pan sauteed, or fried, steamed or pretty much any way you cook it it has a lobster like taste.

    Frankly anything is good dipped in melted butter…Try something else…an Asian sauce, olive tapenade, a small bit of lemon preserves if you need the sugar.

    • Danielle says:

      Go away! People like you really irk me with your unnecessary comments. This recipe is delicious as is. If you want to post your own recipe get your own blog and post it there. And thanks so much Sara. Your recipes are wonderful.

  9. Tried it for the first time for dinner today, loved it!!! I will cut on the sugar next time but I am curious as to why the sugar??

    • Lydia, the sugar helps give the fish that lobster-like taste. I’ve had other readers use Splenda for the recipe instead of sugar and they’ve been happy with the results, too!

      • Great, that’s good to know, thank you! And I love that you post step by step pictures, I am a visual person and like to see what it is suppose to look like.

  10. Jessica says:

    how long do you boil the fish if it is not frozen?

    • You can probably cut the time in half. If it looks like the fish is starting to break apart during the boil, it’s time to take it out!

  11. Linda Nadspal says:

    Trying this tonight with some friends….going to poach it at home and finish up at her house so it is nice and warm. Love lobster, and most shell fish so this FL girl is eager to see how this is.

    • Linda Nadspal says:

      Excellent!!!! Since I am on a diet that allows no red meat, only chicken, fish and occasional pork, I will be eating this alot!

    • I can’t wait to hear how it all turned out, Linda! I’m hoping the fish didn’t get rubbery at all after poaching and before putting it in the oven. Let me know how it was!

  12. TERREA PUTERBAUGH says:

    I used cod and flounder. They was both wonderful. Thank you for the recipe.

  13. kookooracharabioso says:

    I did this once before and it was great. This time the fish went from frozen to shredded and I dumped in colander to drain – and that’s where 9/ 10 of my fish went. In the middle of the night at the broke time of month wow – plus so embarrassing. 28

    • Maybe the pieces were thinner or smaller and you just boiled it too long. If you see the fish start to break apart at all, remove it from the burner and transfer to the baking sheet. It’s ready to go into the oven!

  14. As a Jewish gal, I don’t indulge in shellfish, but a co-worker kept talking about New England lobster rolls until my mouth began to water! I had to find an alternative and came across your blog post. I followed it to the letter, chilled the cod turned lobster, and made lobster rolls with it. My husband could not stop talking about the mean well into the next day! We’ve already decided we must make this recipe again very soon. Thank you!

    • Oh, I’m so glad! Thank you so much for stopping by to share your experience. This is truly one of our family’s favorite recipes!

    • Natalie says:

      Wow, that is a great idea. As I have adopted the kosher/biblical way of not eating certain foods. In fact this is how i found this recipe. I grew up eating everything seafood but no more. I was craving lobster or California rolls. Ive made the poor man’s lobster many times but never thought to roll it into sushi! Thanks for the idea!

  15. This was wonderful- and i didn’t even use cod, but skinny pollack, I just adjusted for that. Lobster lover me was fooled- can’t wait to fool my friends too, thank you!

  16. This was such a hit last night for dinner thank you so much for sharing!!

  17. Heather says:

    I love this recipe and so does my husband, but now I am on no sugar diet. Has anyone tried it without using the sugar?

    • The sugar is what gives the cod the sweetness of lobster. I’ve never left it out, but I don’t see why you couldn’t. Maybe just amp up the lemon for some extra flavor?

    • Natalie says:

      I wonder if you can use agave syrup? Unless you cant do any sweeteners at all?

  18. Just made this tonight. Kinda winged it…. My wife and kids loved it! I don’t know what to do to top it. Thanks Sara

  19. Hi Sara,
    I made this for dinner tonight – we loved it! The cod was a little on the tough side. I’m wondering if I over cooked it or maybe undercooked it? I can’t wait to make it again and want to get it right next time. I think I boiled it the right length of time, it was just starting to fall apart. Any suggestions?

    (& thanks so much for this! I will be making often)
    Beth

    • It sounds like you may have overcooked it a bit. Also, did you boil the cod while it was still frozen? If not, you may want to try that next time! Good luck and I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe!

      • Yes, I boiled it while still frozen. I’ll try to make sure I don’t over-cook it next time. Already looking forward to making it again! thanks 🙂 Beth

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