More Than 30% Of People Think This Is The Most Difficult Seafood To Cook

Few foods can intimidate home cooks quite like seafood. Even if you're not an angler who catches, scales, guts, and fillets his or her own fish, preparing seafood can feel like a lot. This is especially true if you're cooking up whole fish — eyes and all — or as is the case with some shellfish, purchasing them alive. But that's only part of what a New York Times writer once called "the fear of cooking fish."

For many of us, seafood often feels so difficult to cook because we do it so seldomly. There's also the matter of using lobster pots, clam steamers, and other cookware and utensils which may be considered standard kitchen equipment in New England but take some getting used to elsewhere — especially when they're only pulled out for the rare clambake, crab boil, or other summer seafood-themed dinner party.

So which type of seafood is actually the most difficult to cook? It's an interesting question, which is why we decided to poll our Tasting Table readers. Of the 515 people surveyed, only 9.13% (or 47 voters) thought shrimp was difficult to cook. This is no surprise since the World Atlas notes that shrimp is the most popular seafood in the U.S. and is a food many home cooks are already familiar with.

Considering the lobster

Lobster was considered the most difficult, according to a whopping 33.79% of those surveyed (or 174 respondents). According to Men's Journal, lobster is one of the rare foods bought live. It is meant to be killed during the cooking process — typically by boiling it alive. Beyond any moral quandaries (a subject famously considered by writer David Foster Wallace in Gourmet), there are also a lot of cooking mistakes that are commonly made with lobster. New England Today lists putting too much seasoning in the water and crowding too many lobsters in the same pot as a couple of the most common mistakes home chefs make with lobster.

The second-place finisher for most difficult seafood to cook was scallops at 26.41% (136 votes). Scallops do have a reputation for being easy to overcook, but as Eating Well points out, if prepared simply, they pose few difficulties. Crab and salmon ranked third and fourth place, respectively, although the vote was very close. Crab received 15.53% of the responses to our poll (80 votes), while salmon received 15.15% (78 votes). Crabs, like lobsters, are often cooked alive, so the difficulty factor is quite understandable. The most difficult cooking issue with salmon, meanwhile (as with many fish, via Bon Appétit), is a tendency to stick to the pan.