Food by VICE

20 Ways to Get a Little Weird with Surf 'n' Turf

Name a more iconic duo than steak and seafood. We’ll wait.

by Munchies Staff
May 3 2018, 7:15pm

Surf and turf's origin story is shrouded in mystery, with restaurants across North America arguing for the title of who did it first. It’s a curious combination that sprung from America’s fascination with “Continental cuisine” in the 60s. A hearty steak, even then, was on the luxury end of the dining spectrum, while lobsters were considered basically peasant food by the fishing towns in New England where the shellfish was abundant. (Even though most lobster sold in restaurants in the 60s was probably imported frozen from South Africa, ironically.) And yet, together on a plate, surf and turf became a luxe status symbol for the upwardly mobile middle class. And just like the seemingly endless resurgence of mid-century modern furniture, we think it's high time to re-appraise the decidedly vintage tradition of the surf ‘n’ turf special. Here are some of our best beef and seafood combos from the MUNCHIES recipe archives for inspiration.

Let’s start with the basics. You have to know the right way to grill a steak, and you have to know the right way to boil a lobster. After that, making magic with the combo is easy.

If you’re not planning on lighting up a grill for this, try Matty Matheson’s method for a perfectly cooked ribeye using a cast-iron skillet.

Sure, cracking straight into a lobster tail is fun, but there are so many delicious ways to eat lobster, so why stop there? Go for a variation on the theme with an OG Maine-style lobster roll (we’ve got other recipes to choose from, too), and pair it with a top-notch cheeseburger. Who said the turf has to be steak?

There is no law that states that the surf has to be lobster, either. This crab cake sando would be a perfect accompaniment to a good burger, but also, probably plopped right on top of a steak, too.

Basically a crunchier version of a corndog, made of lobster tail (or crayfish) instead of a frank. Let’s get real weird with this whole surf ‘n’ turf experimentation, y’all.

If you’re going for the true steakhouse vibes, mashed potatoes are an obvious side choice, and are also an obvious place for the lobster to go.

If surf and turf is decidedly 60s, then fancy mac and cheese with lobster or crab is thoroughly an early 2000s fad food. Pair your fancy steak with this crab mac and cheese for a total nostalgia trip meal.

These crab and corn fritters would be ideal alongside a nicely grilled ribeye for a summer barbecue. Like a low-brow surf ‘n’ turf, with a red-and-white checked picnic blanket vibe instead of a white table cloth one.

Forget about steak frites—serve your meat with fried clams instead, and you’ll be the master of the surf and turf. Plus, it’s easier to pretend it's keto.

There’s no reason to mess with a perfect thing, so we kept this steak sandwich pretty classic. Horseradish gives it some spice without taking focus away from the meat.

If we’re being true to form, then the steak in a good old fashioned surf ‘n’ turf combo wouldn’t be a ribeye. That’s way too luxe. Go for a cheaper cut like a blade steak to keep it humble.

Or, you know, do the total opposite and commit a true sin of hubris by chicken-frying one of the most expensive kinds of beef there is; that’s cool too. Pair it with a whole lobster and a disgusting amount of melted butter, and you basically have the the perfect indulgent dish for an egomaniacal hedgefunder. Go ahead, be the Wolf of Wall Street for a minute.

With a super flavorful sauce like this nam jim, it’s easy to pair any lobster or crab with this steak. Get creative.

Lobster- and pork-filled pelmeni swimming in a creamy lobster sauce might just be the pinnacle of indulgence. You’ll want to save this one for a special occasion.

This lobster curry is easy enough to pull together after work when you need a little pick-me-up, and if getting weird with weed isn’t for you, it's just as good without it.

These rustic handmade noodles are the perfect intro to homemade pasta. King crab, XO sauce, and lots of butter turns this into anything but your lazy weeknight pasta.

And then there’s the dishes that do the surf ‘n’ turf work for us, like this Korean steak and crab gimbap. Expand your surf ‘n’ turf horizons beyond the States.

Kris Yenbamroong of LA’s wildly popular Night + Market Song is physically incapable of making food that is not delicious. With a beautifully dry-aged porterhouse and delicately briny uni, this is a Thai-ish interpretation of the surf ‘n’ turf style.

surf and turf