Surf ‘n’ Turf is a classic dish that gained popularity in steakhouses across the U.S. in the 1960s and 70s. It makes an elegant special occasion dinner and is surprisingly easy to prepare at home. As the name implies, surf and turf can feature any combination of meat and seafood, but filet mignon and lobster tail are the traditional pairings.
The ingredient list for this delicious dinner is short. Aside from salt, pepper, and olive oil, all you need are the filet mignons, lobster tails, butter, shallots, and parsley.
How to Make Surf and Turf
Since the flavors in this dish are so simple, the key to making a great surf and turf dinner is timing. Here are our guidelines:
- Bring the filets to room temperature.
- Preheat the oven for at least 10 minutes.
- Finish prepping the lobster tails prior to searing the filets.
- Sear the filets in a heavy pan, 1 to 1-1/2 minutes per side.
- Put the steaks in the oven and set the timer for 3 minutes.
- After 3 minutes put the lobster tails in the oven and reset the timer for 2 minutes.
- After 2 minutes test the filets with an instant-read thermometer (125°F for medium-rare).
- Remove the steaks and set aside to rest for 5 minutes.
- Watch the lobster tails carefully to avoid overcooking (8 minutes total).
If you follow our timing, your lobster tails should be done cooking at the same time your filets finish their 5-minute rest.
Side Dish Suggestions
The natural flavors of the steak and lobster should be the focus of this dinner, so we generally serve simple sides of steamed green beans and dinner rolls.
If you’re feeling indulgent though, you can pick up an extra lobster tail and whip up some lobster mashed potatoes to serve as a side dish.
When it comes to wine, there’s no perfect pairing for this dinner. A buttery Chardonnay is a terrific choice for lobster, but not ideal for filet mignon. Hearty reds work best with the filet but would overpower the delicate flavor of the lobster.
A medium-bodied Pinot Noir is what we usually go with, but our suggestion is to drink what you like knowing that it might not be the ideal pairing for both elements of the dish.
Surf and Turf Dinner
- 2 lobster tails, 5 ounces each
- 2 lemon wedges
- 2 filet mignons, 1-1/4-inch thick
- Olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the compound butter:
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 medium shallot, very finely chopped (about 2 teaspoons)
- 2 teaspoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
- Remove the filets from the refrigerator to allow them to come to room temperature (about 30 minutes).
- Use a fork to thoroughly combine the softened butter, shallot, and parsley on a flat plate. Transfer to a sheet of wax paper and form it into a 1-1/2-inch diameter cylinder. Roll tightly and freeze for 10 minutes to solidify, then refrigerate until ready to use.
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400°F. Line 2 small baking sheets with aluminum foil and coat them with nonstick spray.
Note: Be sure to choose baking sheets small enough to fit in the oven side by side.
- Place the lobster tails, top side up, on a cutting board. Using kitchen shears, carefully cut a slit down the center of each shell, leaving the fan at the end of the tail intact.
- Be careful to insert the tip of the shears just under the shell to avoid cutting through the meat.
- Turn the lobster tails over and use the shears to snip off the small flippers.
- To loosen the meat from the shell, carefully insert an upside-down teaspoon between the underside of the shell and the meat. The shape of the spoon conforms to the segments of the lobster shell, and being smooth and rounded, it helps to loosen the meat without shredding it.
- Turn the lobster tails over again and carefully spread the shells apart where you split them. Gently pull the tail meat upward leaving it fastened at the fan end. Press the empty halves of the shell back together and rest the tail meat on top.
- Rinse the lobster tails under cool water and gently pat dry with paper towels. Should you find a vein that runs the length of the tail meat, remove and discard it.
- Arrange the lobster tails on one of the prepared baking sheets and squeeze a little lemon over each. Slice a pat of compound butter for each lobster tail, cut them in half and arrange the two pieces on top of the meat. Set aside.
- Drizzle the steaks with olive oil and season on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Heat a heavy frying pan over medium-high heat and coat with a bit of extra olive oil. Add the steaks and sear just long enough for them to release easily from the pan, 1 to 1-1/2 minutes per side.
- Once the steaks are seared, quickly transfer them to the remaining prepared baking sheet and place them in the oven. The steaks will cook for 5 minutes in the oven for medium-rare (recommended).
- After the steaks have been in the oven for 3 minutes, it’s time to put the lobster tails in. The lobster tails will need to cook for 6 to 8 minutes total.
- Test the steaks after 5 minutes with an instant-read thermometer. The correct temperature for medium-rare is 125°F.
- Remove the steaks from the oven and allow them to rest for 5 minutes.
- Keep an eye on the lobster tails. If you’ve taken your steaks out of the oven after 5 minutes, your lobster tails should be done when the steaks are finished with their 5-minute rest.
- To serve, arrange the filets and lobster tails on individual serving plates, top each filet with a pat of the compound butter and serve immediately.