Surf and turf: a main course dish featuring both red meat and seafood | Photo: Shutterstock

Surf and turf is an entrée or main course dish featuring red meat and seafood.

Typically, it combines beef steak or filet mignon with steamed, grilled, or breaded and fried lobsters (whole or tail), prawns, shrimp, squid, or scallops.

This menu is particularly popular and trendy in steakhouses across the United States and Canada but can also be found in traditional British and Irish pubs. In Australia, it is also known as reef and beef.

Between the 1960s and 1970s, it was a symbol of affordable middle-class European/Continental cuisine.

Although fine food specialists never considered it a gourmet recipe, the meat-and-seafood dish has been revamped, improved, and included in a few high-end restaurants by new-generation chefs.

It can also be identified in menus as "surf 'n' turf" or "surf n' turf."

Surf and turf: the expression and recipe date back to the late 1950s

Why Is It Called Surf and Turf?

The expression "surf and turf" includes two words related to seafood and ruminants that feed on grass.

The origins of the steak-and-shrimp recipe are relatively unclear.

However, the first published record of the recipe appeared in January 1966 in a The Lowell Sun advert promoting The Continental restaurant in Lowell, Massachusetts.

It read:

"Champagne Dinner - Surf 'N Turf (A Continental Original). A delightful Continental combination of a Junior Filet Mignon - Baked Stuffed Alaskan Crab Legs and a nescalope [sic] of Halibut in creamy Lobster Newburg Sauce."

The dish was part of a seven-course meal, which cost $4.95, drinks included.

However, the expression "surf and turf" was used in a more general sense, at least since 1959. It described products that could be used either at the beach or on the grass.

Surf and turf: a meat-and-seafood dish that has been revamped, improved, and included in a few high-end restaurants by new-generation chefs | Photo: Creative Commons

The Ultimate Surf and Turf Recipe

You don't need to be a master chef to prepare a delicious, five-star surf n' turf. It's relatively easy and fast to make and is the perfect meal for a post-surfing session or a special occasion.

You'll impress your best friends and family, and you may also add a couple of fun side dishes. It's the perfect marriage of ocean and land.

The trick is medium-high heat (150 °F or 65 °C), a good steak, add salt and pepper and create a flavorful marinade.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes;
  • Cook time: 20 minutes;

Try Gordon Ramsay's surf and turf recipe:


  • 1.5 oz filet mignon;
  • 1 lobster tail;
  • 1 teaspoon salt;
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper;
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil;
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic;
  • 2 sprigs of thyme;
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter;
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced shallot;
  • 3 tablespoons of cognac;
  • 4 tablespoons of chicken stock;
  • 1 tablespoon of veal stock reduction/demi-glace;
  • 1/2 cup of cream;
  • 1 tablespoon of grain mustard;
  • 1/2 tablespoon of saffron;
  • 3 turnips;
  • 3 carrots;


The Meat

  1. Season the filet mignon steaks with black pepper and salt;
  2. Pour one tablespoon of olive oil into a hot pan;
  3. Sear your meat for about 2-3 minutes per side, and make sure it doesn't stick - cook it medium rare;
  4. Add minced garlic, two sprigs of thyme, and butter;
  5. Baste the steak;
  6. Take out the ground beef and let it sit and rest;

The Seasoning Mix

  1. Pour the shallot, garlic, and butter into the pan;
  2. Add the cognac and flambé;
  3. Reduce it to syrup and burn off the alcohol;
  4. Add chicken stock, demi-glace, cream, and grain mustard;

The Seafood

  1. While the meat is resting, season the lobster with salt;
  2. Plunge the lobster into butter and saffron;
  3. Let it poach so that the flavor gets more intense;

The Vegetables

  1. Add turnip, carrots, and seasoning into a mixing bowl;
  2. Put them in a pan with the open face side down;
  3. Add butter;
  4. Put the ingredients aside when caramelized and golden brown;

The Food Plating

  1. Place the steak in the center of the dish;
  2. Add the poached lobster on top;
  3. Drop the turnips and carrots around the meat and seafood;
  4. Pour the cognac sauce over the vegetables;

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