Romantic Surf and Turf Dinner for Two: Steak and Scallops

January 31, 2024
Surf and turf plated on a back dish with puree.
Surf and turf plated on a back dish with puree.

Surf and Turf Dinners Don’t Need a Holiday

Generally speaking, I hate surf and turf dinners. It’s always the same uninspired combination of filet mignon and a lobster tail. Sometimes the lobster tail will be substituted for a crab cake. A surf and turf dinner is widely regarded as a pinnacle of dinner, mostly at steak houses and fancier white tablecloth restaurants. I’ll write a whole separate blog about why steak houses are almost always overrated.

Tip #1 to the Perfect Surf and Turf Dinner

Let’s talk tips and tricks before we get into the recipe. Here’s your first tip, you don’t need to wait for a special occasion like Valentine’s Day or an anniversary to make this one. Next tip.

Tip #2 to the Perfect Surf and Turf Dinner

Lobster tails are cliche. Don’t get me wrong, they are delicious, but upscale restaurants treat lobster tails as a delicacy that is impossible to recreate at your home so you have to pay a $40 markup for their expert preparation, which is almost always overcooked.

If you see a char on your lobster tail, chances are it’s been overcooked and you’re missing out on a lot of flavor. Buy a live lobster from your local fishery. It’ll probably cost you around $13. Cook the entire thing yourself. Crab cakes are also overrated. Mostly breadcrumb mixture and minimal carb.

Brussel sports browning in a cast iron skillet.

Lobster Tails? We would rather scallops!

In this dish, we’ll be using sea scallops instead of your standard lobster tail or crab cakes. Always get larger sea scallops, they cook easier and are a perfect partner to a steak thanks to their delicate texture.

Now let’s talk about the turf in this surf and turf dinner. You’re probably guessing that I will say Filet Mignon is overrated. And it is. However, for a surf and turf dinner, filet is the best choice because of the size. A 6 – 8 oz filet is perfect for this dish. I’d rather have a 14 oz porterhouse over a filet mignon steak, but the often smaller size and tender nature of filet mignon makes it pair better with seafood.

Tip #3 to the Perfect Surf and Turf Dinner

Last tip. A well-cooked steak does not need a sauce. Just a little sea salt and some pepper is all you’ll need. And of course, make sure you’re cooking your steak to the correct internal temperature. I prefer mine medium rare, with an internal temperature between 125 and 135. If you prefer yours rare, cook it to 120 – 125. For one last tip, try using white pepper instead of regular black. The white pepper adds a nice dynamic flavor to the steak, and you can use way less of it since it’s a stronger flavor. Instead of a steak sauce, this recipe will use a puree of acorn squash.

Steak being basted in a cast iron skillet.

As always: Trust the Process

Make your herbed compound butter first. If you’re feeling fancy, get yourself an infuser machine that will do this for you. You’ll have to use melted butter and then freeze it in ice cube trays to make it work (that’s what I did on the TikTok video). If you don’t have an infuser, leave the butter out on the counter for roughly an hour or so, that will get it soft enough to be pliable. Mince up a sprig of rosemary and the zest of about a quarter of a lemon and add it to the softened butter. Once combined, put the compound butter in the refrigerator to harden again.

Squash Puree is Incredible!

Next, prepare your acorn squash puree. Place a large pot of salted water on the stove and bring it to a boil. Cut the squash in half and scoop out all of the seeds and pulpy flesh from the center halves. You can discard all of the seeds and pulp.

Cut the squash into chunks and drop into the boiling water. Don’t stand on ceremony for the squash chunks; you’ll be pureeing them anyway. Boil the squash for about 20 minutes or until the pieces are fork-tender. Now this step is very important. Strain the squash from the water, but reserve ALL of the water that the squash was cooked in.

Scallops cooking in cast iron skillet.

Blend Baby, Blend!

Using a stick or hand blender, puree the squash in a large bowl. Add about a tablespoon of your compound butter and a couple of pinches of salt and pepper. Using about a quarter cup at a time, add the squash water to your puree. Stir it in and repeat the process until the puree is runny but still firm. Add a couple of pinches of salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

After the squash puree is ready, it’s time to start the brussels sprouts. Half each brussel sprout and place in a large mixing bowl. You might need to quarter them if they are large enough. The goal is to have pieces as equal in size as possible so that they cook evenly. Drizzle some olive oil over your brussel sprouts, enough to get a light coat, and season with salt and pepper. Zest the rest of your lemon over the brussels sprouts and stir to combine. Set these aside for now. 

plated surf and turf on a black plate on a cutting board.

The Star of the Show!

Next, take your meat out to get it to room temperature. You never want to cook cold meat. The same goes for the scallops. Prepare your steaks by adding salt and pepper to both sides. You’ll want to use an oven-safe cast iron skillet for this. Turn it on over medium-high heat. After the pan has heated for a couple of minutes, add a couple of tablespoons worth of the compound butter to the skillet and spread it around as it melts.

Place the filet mignon steaks in the cast iron skillet. You should hear that wonderful sizzle of a hot pan searing your steaks. Place another sprig of rosemary and three cloves of garlic in the pan with the steaks. If you’re going for medium rare, cook for about 4 – 5 minutes on each side.

The juices from the steak and the melted butter should create a little bed of liquids in the skillet. Flip the steaks for the first (and ideally only) time and use a spoon to baste. The best way to do this is to tilt your cast iron skillet towards you so that the liquids collect at the bottom portion. In a fluid and consistent motion, spoon the liquids over the steaks. Do this about 10 – 15 times. After the steaks have been cooked on both sides, transfer steaks to a separate dish or cutting board to rest.

Surf and turf plated on a back dish with puree.

Now it’s Time for the Surf!

While your steaks are resting, make your scallops and brussels sprouts. Salt and pepper your scallops on both sides to start, then bring your cast iron skillet back to medium-high heat. Be sure to leave all of that buttery liquid that you used to baste your steaks in the pan. You may need to add a drizzle of olive oil to the skillet if there is not enough of butter liquid in the skillet. We don’t want the scallops to stick.

Like most seafood, sea scallops cook very quickly. They don’t need more than a few minutes on each side. Overcooked scallops won’t become stringy like jumbo shrimp, but they will get chewy and lose some of their flavor.

Adding the Finishing Touches to Your Surf and Turf Dinner!

In a separate skillet (I prefer stainless steel) bring two to three tablespoons of olive oil to temperature over medium heat. Add in your Brussels sprouts.

Here’s another tip for you. Vegetables do not take long to cook. With almost all vegetables, you only want to cook them long enough so that they retain their vibrant, mostly green, color and a nice crisp. If you’re eating mushy vegetables, that likely means you’ve overcooked them. Cook your brussels sprouts for about 7 minutes, stirring or tossing occasionally. If you’ve cut them larger, they may need about ten minutes to cook. Remove them from the heat and set aside.

Now it’s time to plate. This is entirely up to the cook, but I tend to eat with my eyes first. Ladle a nice layer of the acorn squash puree onto the center of the plate. Place a filet on top of that. Place your scallops on one perimeter of the steak with Brussels on the other. I’m sure that is more detail than you needed and are thinking to yourself, “Shut the hell up, I will plate however I damn well please.” Go right ahead. Enjoy the special occasion, or Wednesday night, for your romantic surf and turf dinner for two.

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Surf and turf plated on a back dish with puree.

Steak and Scallops: Surf and Turf Dinner for Two


  • Author: Matt and Melissa
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x

Description

If you are looking to make a surf and turf dinner for two this is your recipe! Steak and scallops are a perfect way to visit the land and the sea!


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • Two, 6oz Filet Mignon Steaks
  • 8 Sea Scallops
  • 1 Acorn Sqash
  • 1/2 stick of salted butter
  • 1 lb Brussels Sprouts
  • Fresh Rosemary Sprigs (one clamshell is enough)
  • Zest of 1 Lemon
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Garlic Powder
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Make your compound butter first. We used our Levo 2 machine
  2. To make the butter without a Levo remove your butter from the fridge and allow to soften on the counter for about 1-2 hours. 
  3. While this is softening you can roughly chop 2 sprigs of rosemary and zest a quarter of a lemon. Once the butter is soft and pliable combine the rosemary, lemon zest, and butter with a fork, pressing down to combine. We put our butter in a small ice cube try and put it in the freezer to set but you don’t have to do this. Set aside
  4. Remove your steaks and scallops from the fridge, uncover, pat dry and allow them to come to room temperature. 
  5. Place a large pot of salted water on the stove and bring to a boil. 
  6. Remove the stem from your squash and use a peeler to remove the skin. Cut the squash in half with a very sharp knife. Using a spoon remove all the seeds from the center. 
  7. Cube the acorn squash and add it to your boiling water. Cook the squash for about 20 minutes or until fork tender. Reserve ALL of the cooking water, remove the squash, and place it into a large bowl.
  8. Using a blender or a handheld immersion blender blend the squash into a puree adding some cooking water as you go until you get the consistency you like. We usually wait until it’s a thin mashed potato consistency. 
  9. Add a tablespoon of your compound butter, salt, and pepper to taste and set aside. 
  10. Next up is your Brussels sprouts. Remove the stem and cut each sprout in half. Put the halves in a bowl as you go. Toss your halves in olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and add in the remaining 3/4 of your lemon zest. 
  11. Put a cast iron skillet on your stove over medium heat and allow it to come to temperature. While it is heating up season your steak and scallops with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Once the skillet is just about smoking add in your steaks.
  12. After two minutes add 2 tablespoons of compound butter. to the skillet and allow it to melt. Continue cooking the steak for 2 more minutes then flip it. 
  13. Add your garlic cloves, and rosemary and baste your steak with the butter on the pan. Do this by carefully leaning the pan to the side and using a spoon to move the butter over top of the steaks. 
  14. For medium rare cook the steak of 5 minutes on this side and remove from the pan. Allow the steak to rest until you are ready to serve. 
  15. In the cast iron skillet, you just used over medium heat add your scallops. Allow them to cook undisturbed for about 2 minutes on each side. Seriously only touch them to flip them! Once cooked remove from the pan and set aside.
  16. Lastly, over medium heat, in a stainless steel saute pan add a bit of olive oil and your brussel sprouts. Cook for about 7 minutes tossing and turning them regularly. 
  17. Add everything to a dish, make it pretty, and serve it to your sweetheart! 
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes

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We’re Matt and Melissa, and this is our food blog, though it may not be the food blog you are expecting. We are here to take you on a culinary adventure through our kitchen, our passions, our stories, and our liquor cabinet. Residing in Monmouth County, NJ (the best county in NJ) we love to cook and create in our kitchen. But we know we’re not the real experts and the only thing more fun than tasting our own creations are tasting others’. When we’re not cooking for you, we’re around town sampling all that New Jersey’s culinary scene has to offer. Let take A Couple Bites!

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