When we think of surf and turf, images of lobster dipped in clarified butter and juicy steak typically pop into our heads. That’s an excellent, luxurious and delicious way of uniting sea and land, but it’s not the only way to celebrate the unison of these ingredients. For some, cooking lobster and steak is biting off more than they can chew, so let’s explore another way in which we can keep surf and turf simple yet highly effective with a little creativity.
What is surf and turf, you ask? Surf and turf is when you serve seafood (surf) such as lobster, shrimp, scallops or squid with red meat (turf) such as beef or sometimes lamb on the same plate. It’s decadent and is typically saved for special occasions, but keep in mind that surf and turf can mean many different things depending on where you are in the world and what you have access to.
Take for example the classic Italian dish called Vitello Tonnato. This dish marries the flavors of chilled, poached veal with a bright and vibrant sauce comprised of tuna. I know it sounds like an unusual combination of flavors, but trust me when I say it’s amazing.
Some other great examples of approachable surf and turf are:
- Fish Tacos with Mexican Chorizo
- Bacon- or Prosciutto-Wrapped Scallops or Shrimp
- Seafood or Fish Chowder with Bacon or Pancetta
- Risotto with Pancetta and Shrimp
For Christmas Eve lunch, I wanted to prepare something special yet quick to cook for my family since we still had cookies to bake and presents to wrap, so for my surf and turf adventure, I went to Spain for inspiration and combined mussels with Spanish chorizo. I love mussels and I love chorizo, so why not put them together? The best thing about this recipe is that it takes just under 30 minutes to prepare, and has that “wow factor” that will impress your friends and family.
Mussels are in the mollusk family (try saying that 10 times fast!), which means they have a hard outer shell with a soft body. Don’t be intimidated by working with them… they are really easy to clean and handle, and are cost effective. A few years back, I wrote a blog that goes into the details of how to purchase and clean mussels, so click here for the scoop.
For my turf component, I used Spanish chorizo which is very often confused with Mexican chorizo. They are both very delicious, but they are two very different types of sausage. Spanish chorizo is a hard, cured chorizo that’s reddish in color from the addition of paprika. Most grocery stores will have it in the section with the salami, prosciutto and other packaged cured meats. I love this type of sausage because when cooked, the flavor of the spices used to make the sausage infuse into your recipe creating an earthy and bright burst of savoryness.
The recipe comes together very quickly, which means it’s important to have all of your ingredients ready to go before you start the cooking process. The French term for this is called Mise en Place, which translates to everything in its place.
The first step is to sauté the green peppers, tomatoes and chorizo. This step is important because it breaks down the tomatoes, which become a part of the sauce, and allows the chorizo to impart its flavor. It’s the base flavor profile for the dish.
The next step is to add the garlic and cook until aromatic.
Then the mussels and wine go in. The wine makes up part of the sauce, but as the mussels start to open, they release their juices contributing to the sauce as well.
The reason why I love cooking with mussels is because they cook so quickly! In order to make sure they are thoroughly cooked through, cover the pot to capture the steam and cook until all of the shells have opened, which takes five to six minutes. That’s it! If there are any mussels that don’t open, be sure to discard them.
Finish the dish with salt, pepper and parsley, transfer to individual bowls or a platter and serve with toasted bread to soak up all of the yummy juices.
Steamed Mussels with Chorizo and Tomatoes
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Yield: 4-6 servings as an appetizer
Active time: 20 minutes
Start to finish: 20 minutes
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 green pepper, small dice
4 ounces Spanish chorizo, cut into semicircles
1 large or 2 plum tomatoes, medium dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 to 2 pounds mussels, cleaned and debearded
1 cup white wine
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, rough chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Toasted bread of your choice for serving
- Heat a large pan with a lid over medium heat, and add the olive oil. Gently sauté the peppers, chorizo and tomatoes until they just start to soften, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic, and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds.
- Add the mussels and wine, and stir well. Cook, covered, until the mussels steam open, about 5 minutes. Discard any mussels that do not open.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste, and stir in the parsley.
- Serve the steamed mussels in bowls with the broth and the warm bread for dipping.
This recipe is quick, nutritious, delicious and impressive, and would make a fabulous addition to your New Year’s Eve table. Serve it with a lovely salad and you have yourself a creative and lighter spin on the traditional surf and turf.
If you are looking for that more traditional surf and turf experience, then you don’t want to miss our New Year’s Eve Virtual Class where our chef will teach you how to prepare Lobster Thermidor and Sautéed Beef Tenderloin Steaks with a Red Wine Reduction. You’ll not only learn many important cooking techniques along the way, but you’ll have a feast fit for a special occasion at the end of class.
Surf and Turf is also our challenge for our private Facebook group this week. Join the group, make a surf and turf dish and share it with your fellow, supportive home cooks!