Beef/ Recipes/ Seafood

Surf and Turf Recipe Ideas

January 31, 2021
Strip Steak and Shrimp Scampi Surf and Turf
This post is written in partnership with Hestan.  

 

Surf and turf is the best of both worlds.  Sometimes you want variety when ordering a meal out or making it at home.  Sometimes it’s just plain hard to decide or choose one main course to commit to.  Sure, I love a great steak but I’m also a big seafood fan.  Therein lies the perfect opportunity to indulge in surf and turf.  Although surf and turf recipes can encompass a number of different protein and seafood combinations, I’ll stick to a few classic versions here.  I will show you how to cook steak and seafood on or in my Hestan range or out on the grill if you prefer.

 

What is Surf and Turf?

 

Traditionally surf refers to food which comes from the sea.  Turf refers to animals that feed off of grass or “turf”.   Turf more traditionally in “surf and turf recipes refers to some form of red meat such as steak.   Although lobster is a popular choice for the “surf” part of surf and turf recipes, it can refer to any seafood.  Personally, crab and shrimp top my list followed by scallops and lobster.

 

What Type of Beef Should I Use for Surf And Turf?

 

A great steak is the obvious choice for a surf and turf.  Filet mignon, strip steaks, ribeye, t-bones, sirloin, prime rib all make for a delicious surf and turf pairing.  Pick what type of steak you are in the mood for.   When cooking at home, don’t be afraid to pick different cuts if your friends or family have different preferences.

Some might be intimidated to cook different cuts knowing they might be finished cooking at different times.  Holding a steak to keep warm until the rest of your meal is finished is much easier than holding seafood.  Granted, that depends on what seafood you are cooking.

In shell steamed crab is quite forgiving as are crab cakes.  Shrimp cooks in mere minutes so timing that is easy.  Lobster runs the risk of drying out if being held too long.  The good news is, whether cooking a steak or seafood they all don’t take very long to cook.

 

How to Cook Steak Perfectly

There are a multitude of ways to properly cook at steak.  If I’m not grilling outside or if I plan to cook a steak on cast iron, I will cook it indoors.  Unless you’re cooking your steak in a skillet on the grill so you don’t smoke up your kitchen when searing, I find little reason to take the process outdoors.  The only reason I have in the past was to avoid smoking up my kitchen.  Now that I have my Hestan chimney range hood for ventilation, that is no longer a concern.

I love a good flavorful crust on a steak.  Using a cast iron, a good stainless steel or carbon steel skillets are a great way to amp up the flavor.  Grilling a steak over the flames is certainly my favorite method but having alternatives is ideal.  The whole process can be done easily in a skillet on the stove or partially in the oven (or on the grill) if reverse searing.

For a thorough explanation of how to cook steak perfectly by a variety of different methods please read my article “How to Cook Steak Perfectly”.   Craving prime rib with your surf and turf?   Check out my article “How to Cook Standing Rib Roast” for a step by step tutorial.

Cooking Steaks in Cast Iron On My Dual-Fuel Range by Hestan

Cooking Steaks in Cast Iron On My Dual-Fuel Range by Hestan

 

What Type of Seafood Should I Use for Surf and Turf?

Shellfish options for surf and turf recipes may include lobster, shrimp, scallops, crab or other shellfish varieties.  In fact, if dining out I like when a restaurant lets the patron pick which meat and which seafood they prefer rather than just always making surf and turf meals filet mignon and lobster which is quite common.

 

Lobster

Lobster can be cooked a variety of ways and how you cook it depends on if you are cooking the entire lobster or just a tail.  Eating a tail is certainly more practical for a nice sit down dinner when you aren’t in the mood for flying lobster landing on you.

If i’m having a nice steak with my seafood, I don’t want to have to work that hard to eat it.   When I think of lobster and steak that screams quintessential surf and turf to me.

Grilled Lobster Tails on Aspire by Hestan Grill

Grilled Lobster Tails on Aspire by Hestan Grill

There is no need to over complicate cooking lobster.  You can get as fancy or simplistic as you prefer.  If I am grilling, baking, or broiling lobster, I melt a stick of butter to baste the lobster.  To this melted butter, I a clove of minced garlic if I’m in the mood, and some fresh chopped parsley.   I brush it on before the cook then at least once through the cook.  When serving, I serve with a new little dish of warm melted butter.  The basting butter had a brush in it which touched raw lobster so I do not use that to serve.

A good instant read thermometer is certainly handy when cooking lobster so you don’t overcook it.  Lobster is thoroughly cooked at 135-140°F.  I will pull them from the heat at 135°F knowing they will cook slightly more after removing them from the heat.  Aside from internal temperature, the meat will be white and opaque when thoroughly cooked.

A Colossal Lobster Tail In My Hestan Range

 

Grilled Lobster on Aspire by Hestan Grill

Grilled Lobster on Aspire by Hestan Grill

Shrimp

Shrimp is likely the most versatile shellfish on this list.  Though shrimp scampi is likely the most common choice for surf and turf recipes, the choice is ultimately yours.  Shrimp can easily be steamed, fried, sautéed, grilled, baked into a number of different recipes.

I find many people are intimidated to cook shrimp because they have either undercooked or overcooked them in the past.   Shrimp only need a few minutes on each side to cook if cooking in a skillet or on the grill.  This of course will vary slightly with size but they should be opaque all the way through when thoroughly cooked.

Grilling Shrimp

  • Peel shrimp
  • Remove vein from back of shrimp after making a small cut down the back of the shrimp with a knife
  • Rinse water to remove any leftover shell or vein
  • Pat shrimp with paper towel to remove excess water
  • Marinate or alternatively brush with a bit of oil or butter then season if desired
  • Preheat grill to medium high heat, clean grill grate and spray with cooking spray or rub with oil (to prevent sticking)
  • If using metal skewers, skewer shrimp then grill a few minutes on each side until opaque throughout
  • If using wooden skewers, soak your skewers in water for 30 minutes prior to using so they don’t ignite on grill

Sautéed Shrimp

  • Peel shrimp
  • Remove vein from back of shrimp after making a small cut down the back of the shrimp with a knife
  • Rinse water to remove any leftover shell or vein
  • Pat shrimp with paper towel to remove excess water
  • Toss shrimp (approx 1 lb) in olive oil to coat
  • Heat skillet to medium heat and add a couple tablespoons of olive oil
  • Cook shrimp 1 minute per side then remove from skillet (shrimp are not thoroughly cooked yet)
  • Add aromatics such as garlic, thyme and shallot to pan and lightly sauté being cautious not to burn them.
  • If just cooking the shrimp without a sauce, add 1 tbsp of butter to skillet then place shimp back in skillet.
  • Cook 2-3 minutes longer until shrimp are fully cooked all the way through.

Baked Shrimp

Baked shrimp can be flavored however you prefer but are commonly made scampi style.  Bake shrimp at 350°F in a preheated oven for approximately 10-14 minutes.  Cook time will depend on the size of the shrimp.  I rarely bake shrimp but if I do, I melt a stick of butter, add some minced garlic, fresh ground pepper, fresh chopped parsley, a little squeeze of fresh lemon juice (no more than 1 tbsp) and a splash of white wine if I have it on hand.  It’s easier to mix all of the ingredients together with the shrimp then spread out in a single layer in the baking dish.

Fried Shrimp

I have never had straight battered fried shrimp with my surf and turf but I’m certainly a fan of coconut shrimp with my steak.   I blame Outback for my coconut shrimp obsession.  I’m not a fan of getting steak at commercial restaurants but am often drawn to shrimp.   I had no choice but to create my own recipe for “Coconut Shrimp with Dipping Sauce”.  You can save a lot of money making your own at home for your family or friends.

Filet Mignon and Coconut Shrimp Surf and Turf

Filet Mignon and Coconut Shrimp Surf and Turf

 

Scallops

I’m quite passionate about sourcing good scallops so I wrote a separate post about how to buy and cook scallops.  If you are not buying “dry scallops”, chances are, they pumped full of chemicals which make them retain water.  The more they weigh, the more they get per pound when they sell them.

Sea Scallops Cooked in Cast Iron

Sea Scallops Cooked in Cast Iron

That isn’t even the worst part.  If you cook a scallop that is retaining water unnaturally, upon cooking that water will come out.  Have you ever tried to sear something in a pan full of water?  It isn’t happening or at least not well.  If you love scallops and struggle to get a great sear, I highly encourage you to read my article.  Scallops are truly easy and quick to make if you know some basic information first.  I promise!

 

Crab

Steaming Crab Legs

Depending on the variety of crab you are cooking there are different methods to prepare them.  My recommendation for king crab or snow crab legs is to either steam them or grill them.  Crab legs are already pre-cooked when you receive them.  Your goal is to only reheat them without drying out the meat and to possibly add additional flavor.

If you don’t have a steamer insert, drop a stainless steel colander in the bottom of a large pot to act as a basket to hold the crab.  This will keep the crab from falling into the water.  I love Old Bay Seasoning on crab.  When I steam crab I put about an inch or two of water in the bottom of the pot and bring it to a boil. I’ll shake in at least a couple tablespoons of Old Bay directly into the water.  The aroma is intoxicating when it hits that crab.  Rinse off any ice on the outside of the frozen crab prior to dropping in the water.  Don’t forget to put the lid on the pot to trap the steam.

For king crab legs I’ll steam them from frozen for 7-10 minutes.  If you defrost them overnight beforehand 5-6 minutes may be all you need.  For snow crab which is smaller,  5 minutes should be ideal either way.   Remember you are just reheating the crab.  When they are reheated thoroughly they should be hot to the touch and fragrant.  If they aren’t, give them a couple more minutes.

 

Baking Crab Legs

An alternate method to steam them if you have a vessel large enough is to put all of the crab in a large pan in the oven at 350°F.  Add a cup or so of hot water or liquid to the bottom of the pan.  Cover the whole pan with aluminum foil tightly so the crabs steam.  If using this method don’t be afraid to toss in some lemon slices or herbs to kick up the flavor.   Remember to only add enough water so your legs are not sitting in liquid boiling.  You only need enough water to steam and heat them through.  In ten minutes your crab should be heated thoroughly.

 

Grilling Crab Legs

Whether grilling king crab or snow crab, give them a light brush with oil prior to putting them over medium heat around 325°F for 4-5 minutes per side.  Remove from grill and serve immediately.

 

King Crab

Alaskan King Crab is no doubt the best and most prized crab in the world.  No doubt, if you’re going to indulge, King Crab at the average price of around $27 per pound is certainly one way and it’s perfect for surf and turf recipes.  Many people don’t realize that not all king crab comes from Alaska.  If it isn’t labeled as Alaskan I can almost guarantee you it isn’t.  It’s illegal to call crab that is not from Alaska, “Alaskan King Crab”.

There are three types of commercially fished Alaskan King Crab including Red King Crab, Blue King Crab and Golden King Crab.

Red King Crab is most prized and Blue King Crab is often referred to as red because it turns red when cooked.  They are similar in sweetness but Blue King Crab is thought to have a more mild flavor.  Golden King Crab is not as expensive as Red or Blue but I have yet to see it for sale where I l live.  It’s milder than the other varieties and not as big.

Red King Crab Claw

Frozen Red King Crab Claw

 

Steaming King Crab on Hestan Range

Steaming King Crab on Hestan Range

The truth is, there are over 40 varieties of King Crab all over the world.  The majority of King Crab coming into the United States is from Russia however.  It has been estimated in fact that over three-quarters of the King Crab in the United States is from Russia.   Much of this crab is brought here illegally and often labeled as Alaskan King Crab even though it isn’t.   They do this because they know it can command a higher price.  Do to poaching and poor fishing practices, the Russian King Crab Population is greatly threatened.

Southern King Crab is a cheaper variety I see available in my local grocery store.  It originates from South America.  It may be cheaper, but the legs are smaller, more spiny and I don’t find it nearly as sweet as Alaskan King Crab.  Truthfully, it’s harder to remove from the shell and I don’t see myself buying it again unless the price was outstanding.

 

Snow Crab

Snow crab are considerably smaller than king crab but are a more affordable option.   These crab are found in the North Atlantic and North Pacific as they prefer colder water.  Because their shells are smooth and not as spiny or thick as king crab, they are much easier to crack open and eat.  When I don’t want to splurge on king crab, snow crab is your next best option.

Soft Shell Crab

Although I love them, in my opinion they are better enjoyed as a solo dish.  Soft shell crabs are hard shell crabs that are going through their molting process.  As a result, their shells are still soft and completely edible.  They are only available for a limited time each year and can be harder to find compared to other crab varieties.   My preference is to grill, sauté or fry them.

Crab Cakes

Finding great crab cakes at a restaurant has become an increasingly challenging task.  Anymore I make my own at home because I can control what I put in them.  I guaranteed great crabs cakes with big pieces of lump crab.  Get my favorite recipe for lump crab cakes here.

Lump Crab Cakes

Lump Crab Cakes

I like to pan fry or sauté my crab cakes in cast iron or one of my Hestan nanobond skillets.  Once I get nice browning on the exterior I will finish cooking them in my Hestan Dual-Fuel range.   Alternatively, you can also cook them entirely in the oven.  My crab cakes can be made a day ahead of time or even frozen for future use.

 

 

Non-Traditional Surf and Turf Recipe Ideas

My favorite way to enjoy surf and turf is by having two more classic variations of steak and seafood on my plate.  However, there are many other ways to enjoy it!  For a fun twist on a classic or for a less formal meal, try some of these fun ideas.

 

Surf and Turf Tacos

Surf and turf tacos are a great way to stretch the amount of food you have to feed a larger number of people.  Grill up a steak or two, one lobster tail or a number of shrimp and you can make a bunch of tacos in no time.  In tacos you can add any fresh ingredients you’d like such as pickled onions, cilantro or parsley as additional fillers.

If you aren’t making your own corn or flour tortillas, heat them on a griddle prior to serving.  In fact, I like putting flour tortillas directly over my gas burner on my stove to give them some color and extra flavor prior to serving.

Surf and Turf Tacos

Surf and Turf Tacos

Beef cuts such as skirt steak or flank steak are also great to fill up a taco.  Want to get extra cheesy?  Grab two tortillas, put the cooked seafood between the tortillas with lots of cheese and in a matter of minutes you have surf and turf quesadillas.

 

Other Surf and Turf Recipe Ideas

Appetizers

This is where you let your imagination run wild.  Both steak and seafood can easily be made into bite sized pieces.

Kebabs

Surf and Turf kebabs are a great treat especially during the summer.  The key to making great surf and turf kebabs is choosing meat and seafood that will take approximately the same time to cook.  Baste the seafood with butter while grilling to keep it from drying out and be cautious of flare ups.

Steak and Lobster Kebabs

Steak and Lobster Kebabs

However you may choose to personalize your surf and turf is ultimately up to you.  Hopefully with my guidance the thought of cooking seafood and steak won’t be as intimidating.   Both steak and seafood cook up really fast.  With the addition of a nice vegetable or salad as a side dish you have a meal anyone would be honored to eat.

 

Surf and Turf Recipe Ideas for On and Off the Grill

Surf and Turf Recipe Ideas for On and Off the Grill

You Might Also Like

2 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Joe King
    February 1, 2021 at 4:54 pm

    All of these are great ideas. My all-time favorite is the kabobs by far, but I wouldn’t turn down any of these!
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Melissa Reome
      Reply
      Melissa Reome
      February 1, 2021 at 4:58 pm

      Thanks for stopping by Joe. Delicious food on a stick is never a bad thing!

    Leave a Reply