What is Surf and Turf?

Surf and turf is a dish many of us have heard of but do we know what it is? 

It certainly rolls off the tongue well “surf and turf” so let’s get into what the dish is and how you can make it!

What is Surf and Turf?

Surf and turf is a delicious culinary concept that combines seafood ("surf") with meat ("turf") in a single dish. 

Typically, it features a hearty meat item, like steak, paired with flavourful seafood such as lobster or shrimp

This luxurious and indulgent meal aims to provide a diverse taste experience by blending the rich flavours of meat with the delicate and often slightly sweet taste of seafood. 

A classic surf and turf dish offers a well-rounded and satisfying dining experience, making it a popular choice for special occasions and fine dining.

What is Surf and Turf Made Of?

Surf and turf is a delightful dish that combines two main elements: meat and seafood. 

The "turf" portion usually consists of a hearty meat selection, such as steak or pork, seasoned and cooked to perfection. 

On the "surf" side, there's a delectable seafood component, often featuring lobster, shrimp, or crab prepared in various ways, such as grilling or steaming. 

This culinary creation aims to merge the robust flavours of the meat with the delicate and slightly sweet nuances of the seafood. It's a versatile dish that allows for creative combinations, making it a favourite for those seeking a rich and satisfying dining experience.

Why Is It Called Surf and Turf?

The name "Surf and Turf" is quite distinctive and easy to recall, though the exact origin remains uncertain. Its earliest appearances on both the East and West Coasts of the United States date back to 1939, but interestingly, it wasn't initially associated with food. 

Instead, during that time, the term was used for various beach-related items like bathing suits, beach bags, and sunbathing mats.

It wasn't until the 1960s that the name transitioned to represent a delectable culinary creation, believed to have originated as a dish served on the shores of the U.S. coasts. This suggests that the term, having been used traditionally for beach items, was later adopted for this enduring menu favourite.

surf and turf

Surf and Turf Recipe


  • Steak: Choose a high-quality cut, such as ribeye, fillet mignon, or New York strip. Aim for about 8 ounces per person.
  • Seafood: Options include lobster tails, jumbo shrimp, or crab legs. Plan for 6-8 ounces of seafood per person.
  • Olive Oil: For brushing and marinating the steak and seafood.
  • Garlic: Minced garlic adds a flavorful kick. Use 2-3 cloves.
  • Herbs and Spices: Customise with your favourites, such as salt, pepper, paprika, or rosemary.
  • Butter: Unsalted butter for basting the steak and drizzling over seafood.
  • Lemon: Fresh lemon wedges for a citrusy touch.


Prepare the Steak:

  • Season the steak with salt, pepper, and minced garlic.
  • Brush with olive oil and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Grill or pan-sear to your desired doneness.

Cook the Seafood:

  • If using lobster tails, split them in half. Peel the shrimp if necessary.
  • Brush with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and grill or broil until cooked.
  • Alternatively, steam or boil crab legs until they are heated through.

Basting with Butter:

  • Melt butter and add a dash of minced garlic and herbs.
  • Baste both the steak and seafood with the butter mixture during the last few minutes of cooking.


  • Arrange the cooked steak and seafood on a plate.
  • Drizzle with additional melted butter and a squeeze of fresh lemon.


  • Sprinkle with chopped parsley or additional herbs for a finishing touch.


  • Consider serving with sides like mashed potatoes, asparagus, or a light salad to complement the richness of the dish.

Enjoy this surf and turf masterpiece, bringing together the best of both land and sea in a single, delicious meal!

surf and turf

Best Surf and Turf Recipes

Surf & Turf In 1 Minute With Gordon Ramsey

What to Serve with Surf and Turf

  • Mashed Potatoes: Creamy mashed potatoes make a perfect accompaniment, providing a comforting and hearty element to balance the surf and turf richness.
  • Grilled Vegetables: Lightly seasoned and grilled vegetables, such as asparagus, zucchini, or bell peppers, add freshness and a burst of colour to the plate.
  • Caesar Salad: A classic Caesar salad with crisp romaine lettuce, Parmesan cheese, and a tangy dressing offers a refreshing contrast to the indulgent main course.
  • Roasted Potatoes: Herb-roasted potatoes provide a flavorful and satisfying side dish that complements the savoury flavours of the surf and turf.

Surf and Turf Sauce


  • Butter: 1/2 cup (1 stick)
  • Garlic: 3 cloves, minced
  • Fresh Lemon Juice: 2 tablespoons
  • Chopped Parsley: 2 tablespoons
  • Salt and Pepper: to taste


  1. Melt Butter: In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.
  2. Add Garlic: Stir in the minced garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  3. Lemon Juice: Add the fresh lemon juice to the butter mixture, stirring well.
  4. Parsley and Seasoning: Mix in the chopped parsley and season with salt and pepper according to your taste preferences.
  5. Serve Warm: Drizzle the sauce over the surf and turf just before serving, and reserve some for dipping on the side.

This homemade surf and turf sauce enhances the flavours of both the meat and seafood, adding a delightful touch to your meal. Adjust the ingredients to suit your taste and enjoy the culinary experience!

Surf and Turf Chicken

Surf and turf chicken, while not as traditional as the classic surf and turf featuring steak and seafood, has gained popularity as a creative variation. It offers a unique twist by combining chicken with seafood, usually shrimp. The chicken provides a leaner protein option compared to traditional red meat, catering to individuals who prefer poultry or those looking for a lighter alternative. 

The combination of flavours, textures, and the addition of a surf and turf sauce can make it a delightful and satisfying dish for those seeking variety in their culinary experiences. While it might not be as widespread as the classic surf and turf, surf and turf chicken has found its place on menus in some restaurants, providing a delicious option for those looking to enjoy a surf and turf experience with a poultry twist.

Famous Surf and Turf Restaurant

Summing It Up: What To Do Now

Okay now you can enjoy a beautiful surf & turf after your next surf session! New to surfing? Ensure you know how to pop up like a pro whilst not losing track of time with the latest surf watches.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is considered surf and turf?

Surf and turf is a dish that typically combines meat (turf), often steak, with seafood (surf), such as lobster, shrimp, or crab, on a single plate. The goal is to create a flavourful and indulgent dining experience by pairing the rich, savoury qualities of meat with the delicate and often slightly sweet taste of seafood.

Can surf and turf be chicken?

While the classic surf and turf traditionally involves red meat and seafood, surf and turf variations can include chicken. Surf and turf chicken typically consists of grilled or seasoned chicken paired with seafood, providing a lighter alternative for those who prefer poultry over beef or pork.

Why is surf and turf so good?

Surf and turf is highly regarded for its ability to combine contrasting flavours and textures. The rich, savoury taste of meat complements the delicate, slightly sweet flavours of seafood, providing a well-rounded and satisfying dining experience. This contrast in flavours, along with the indulgent nature of both components, contributes to the dish's popularity.

What does surf and turf mean in the UK?

In the UK, surf and turf refers to the same culinary concept—a dish that features a combination of meat and seafood. The term is used internationally to describe the pairing of land and sea elements in a single meal, and its meaning remains consistent across various regions.

Can surf and turf be fish?

Yes, surf and turf can include fish. Although less common than pairing meat with seafood, some variations feature fish as the surf component. This can involve combinations like grilled fish fillet alongside a steak or other meat, offering a diverse flavour profile on the same plate.

How is surf and turf served?

Surf and turf is typically served with the meat and seafood components arranged on the same plate. The meat, often a grilled steak, is paired with seafood such as lobster or shrimp. It may be accompanied by sides like mashed potatoes, grilled vegetables, or a light salad. The dish is often drizzled with a flavourful sauce, enhancing the overall taste experience.

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