Poor Man’s Lobster (Halibut Recipe)

Ok, Poor Man’s Lobster is truly my ultimate, favorite way of preparing halibut.  This recipe got it’s name during a time when halibut was much cheaper to buy than lobster – which is not the case anymore.  It definitely needs to be renamed to “Rich Man’s Lobster!”
Poor Man's Lobster Halibut Recipe
YUMMMM!!! Just looking at this picture makes me want to make it again tonight! When Kevin, my Dad, and I went fishing in Alaska, we brought back tons of halibut and poor man’s lobster was a common dish in our home for months! I never got sick of it and I don’t think I ever could!  What I wouldn’t give to have a freezer full of halibut now.  I don’t know if I would eat it or sell it to pay for my child’s college tuition.

Halibut has been so expensive the past several years. I rarely see it on restaurant menus anymore. Halibut have become so scarce in the Atlantic Ocean that commercial fisherman are not allowed to catch them, and the Pacific Halibut supplies have been low for many years. It may also have something to do with the life cycle of Halibut. They don’t reproduce until they are 8 years old. I’m hoping the day will come when halibut prices drop to a reasonable level again and it will be more feasible to make this recipe.


Halibut is a white, flakey fish with a smooth texture.  It is much better fresh than frozen.  Frozen halibut tends to overcook and dry out.  This way of preparing halibut to taste like lobster is amazing and easy, but it is also good when it is grilled or sautéed.


A special thanks to Elise for getting this recipe when she lived in Alaska.  We enjoyed many wonderful times with her when she lived there.  What a beautiful place!


Serves 6

Poor Man’s Lobster

This way of preparing Halibut makes it taste just like lobster, especially when dipped in melted butter. The texture is smooth and tender.

5 minPrep Time

10 minCook Time

15 minTotal Time

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  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. salt
  • 1 lb. halibut
  • 1 cube (stick) REAL butter (sweet cream works great)
  • 1-2 fresh lemons


  • In a medium-large pot bring about 2 qt. of water, sugar, and salt to a boil. Cut halibut into 2-3 large pieces (so it cooks faster) and add to water. Boil for about 10 minutes or until halibut is nice and flaky. In the meantime, melt butter in a pot, but do not boil. Remove halibut from water, squeeze a little fresh lemon on it and serve with melted butter (I like to completely submerge my halibut in the melted butter, much like you would do with lobster).
Cuisine: Seafood |


  1. AmISparky says:

    This was delicious and easy. Thank you for sharing your recipes.

  2. Shannon M. says:

    This was so yummy! The flavor is more like crab to me but without the delicate texture. I’m wondering about the “poor-man” part, at least where we live, halibut is not cheap 🙁 Still delicious though 🙂

    • Emily says:

      I know, haha, that is just what we called it growing up. Halibut must have been cheaper then. 🙂

    • April R says:

      You can use any mild flavored white fish. I am going to use cod for dinner tonight. I have also heard of using Swai fillets. Both are much cheaper than halibut, and I add the juice of one lemon to the boiling water to give it a lobster type texture as well.

    • Jess says:

      Haha! I was going to say… halibut is a lot more expensive than lobster! Sounds yummy though!

  3. Julie Johnson says:

    You know what really tastes like lobster? Shrimp & ketchup! Try it, you’ll see.

  4. Gordon says:

    For all you Pacific Coast fisherman, this recipe is also great for Ling cod and Cabezon!

  5. April R says:

    I tried this tonight. It was ok, the butter was definitely key to making it taste good. I like my fish “fishier” so the mildness of this wasn’t to my personal liking. I think this would be a great way to introduce kids to fish.

    • Alaskamuddy says:

      Halibut isn’t a fishy type of fish,i would know i live in alaska,if u want more of a fishy type eat some salmon

      • Echo says:

        Oh, you are so lucky! I’m jealous of all the fresh fish you can get there!

  6. Tammie says:

    We made two batches tonight. The first batch, going by the recipe, was crazy SALTY. So, on the second batch, added very , very little salt, and used a little more sugar, and it was yummy!

  7. Sarah says:

    Excellent way to poach halibut! This was way better than I expected . It lacked the subtle flavour lobster has, but nailed the texture. I liked this better than the crunchy breaded halibut I made at the same time. My husband is deathly allergic to shellfish, so I think he will love this when I make it as a surprise! Recipie is easily halfed if you want to try it out. Don’t skip the butter sauce or lemon!

    • Erica says:

      So glad that you liked it! I agree— you definitely don’t want to skip (or SKIMP) on the butter and lemon lol!

  8. Nick D. says:

    I used this recipe on Northern Pike and Musky and it came out amazing! I’m going to give it a try with Salmon when I get back from New York.

    • Erica says:

      Great idea! Glad to know it works well with other fish!

  9. Sharon says:

    instead of sugar you can use Seven Up or gingerale I prefer 7 up.

    • Emily says:

      I’ve never tried that, you’ll have to let us know how it turns out!

  10. Anna says:

    In Wisconsin, I am told they use white fish as it is plentiful and not expensive. Apparently there, restaurants regularly serve “Poor man’s lobster” which is where I first heard of it.

    • Bunny Simpson says:

      What restaurant did you go to my boyfriend is from there

  11. Loretta Driskell says:

    A chef in PAC N.W. cuts halibut in approx 1″ cubes. You know when fish is done, because it will rise to the surface of the boiling water. Interesting, haven’t tried yet.

  12. Michele says:

    I used cod and it was absolutely delicious. I also sprinkled a little Old Bay seasoning on the cod after cooking.

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