Surf and turf often cops criticism from purists (dare we say, foodie snobs?), but combining seafood and meat in one dish has actually produced many of the world's finest meals.
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22 Oct 2018 - 12:12 PM  UPDATED 22 Oct 2018 - 12:21 PM

‘Surf ‘n’ turf’ became a thing in the 1960s in the US, with a lobster tail-topped steak common on menus in New England. An advert which ran in The Lowell Sun in January 1966 for ‘The Continental’ restaurant, claimed that the "Surf ‘N Turf" on their menu was a “Continental original”. Whether they were the first to pop a seafood top on a steak bottom is lost in history, but one thing we do know is that cultures from all over the world were mixing seafood and meat long before the US itself was even a thing.

We've rounded up some of the world's best surf and turf combinations to tempt you over to the dark side. Just quietly, these traditional versions of surf and turf might even tempt the food snobs...

Portuguese pork and pippies for the win

On Food Safari Water, Diogo Ferreira cooked carne de porco à Alentejana, a classic Portuguese recipe that "has to be on the table" at any gathering. His mother, Lucia, is from the Alentejo province where this classic dish of pork and clams originated. Allow your meat to marinate for a few hours so you can get the complete flavour experience. With an extra splash of wine and some fried spuds, add in your pippies and give it a quick toss and be sure to serve it with bread to mop up all that sauce.

Pork and pippies (carne de porco a alentejana)

Prawn on the barbie, Vietnamese-style

"Get your hands dirty," says Dai Duong. Similar bouncy texture to a fish cake, combine green prawns with pork fat before squeezing them around your sugarcane and popping them onto your barbecue or grill. Wrap your meat in a fresh mustard leaf to serve and the best part comes right at the end - when you get to chew on your juicy sugarcane.

Sugarcane prawns {Chaọ tôm)

Classic Spanish paella

Could paella be the most famous surf and turf recipe of all? There are as many versions of the original Valencian paella as there are cooks. Most mix seafood and chicken, but some versions add chorizo or pork sausage into the dish as well.

Jjamppong is Korea's entry

A spicy noodle soup that's loaded with squid, mussels and pork. The dish is spiced up with a big hit of gochujang, Korea's fiery chilli powder. 

Of course, there's Vietnamese banh mi

Fish sauce plays a pivotal roll in producing the distinctive flavour of a banh mi. Combine the salty brine of the fish sauce with the sweetness of pork and Vietnam was onto a winner. This recipe creates a pork terrine that takes the banh mi next-level.

The Italians mix it up with tuna mayo on veal tenderloins

You might find yourself shuddering at the thought of tuna mayonnaise on veal... which just leaves more for the rest of us. Guiseppe Fuzio (head chef at Sydney's Chiosco) produced an amazing vitello tonnato on Food Safari Water. "Vitello tonnato for me is more than a recipe," he says. "It’s an amazing flavour... Is the flavour bomb yes. It is."

Veal tenderloin with tuna mayo (vitello tonnato)

French salmon pâté

Duck fat meets salmon and gets along very well... Of course, you could always use a vegetable-based fat to make salmon pâté, but if the Ministère de l'agriculture, de l'agroalimentaire et de la forêt come calling, duck for cover.

Creole jambalaya hits the spot

Jambalaya originated in New Orleans and is a magical blending of Spanish, French and Creole flavours. In its infancy it was an attempt by the Spanish to make paella in the 'new world', substituting tomatoes for saffron, which wasn't readily available. Later influenced by the French, African, Caribbeans and Creoles gave the dish its unique taste, but rest assured there is no 'one way' to make jambalaya. Every cook makes it according to what they have on hand right now - vegetables, meat and seafood combined.

Jambalaya with Shrimp in a Cast Iron Skillet

Back to Portugal for cataplana

A stew that combines lobster, clams and mussels with pork belly and chorizo had to be on the list. The flavour is a mix between a North African tagine and a Spanish paella. Just like paella, cataplana actually refers to the pot the dish is cooked in. 

Supreme cataplana

Thai darling Pad Thai

Pad Thai is the dish that is taking over the world one street stall and restaurant at a time. Could it be due to the irresistible combination of dried shrimp, prawns and chicken or beef (depending on the Thai takeaway menu!)?

Pairing the proteins of ocean and earth leads to an intriguing episode with some diverse and inspired flavour combinations. It's all surf and turf on this week's episode of Food Safari Water airing 7.30pm, Wednesdays on SBS and then you can catch-up on all episodes via SBS On Demand. Visit the program page for recipes, videos and more.

Food Safari Water
Spaghetti alla bottarga

Known by many as the “gold of the sea”, this simple pasta dish is one of the best ways to showcase the unique concentrated seafood flavour that bottarga adds. Food Safari Water

Diamond shell clams in XO sauce

Named after a brand of XO Cognac (extra-old), to denote luxuriousness, this Chinese condiment adds a punch of flavour that makes it well worth the extra effort it takes to prepare. Food Safari Water

Claypot fish

The earthy simplicity of cooking in a claypot has been a method used throughout the ages and is particularly popular in Vietnam. The clay not only adds a little moisture to help steam the food but it also imparts an earthy note. Food Safari Water

Sand whiting jungle curry

If sand whiting is difficult to source, you may use a similar white fish, like snapper, instead. Food Safari Water

Pappardelle with blue swimmer crab

Anchovy is Paola Toppi's secret weapon in this crab pappardelle. And don't be deterred by the luxurious liquid, it will all be soaked up by the pasta by the time it hits the table. Food Safari Water

Grilled calamari, oyster sauce and coastal greens

Andrew McConnell makes his own oyster sauce using freshly shucked oysters and squid ink to create a perfect balance of salty, sweet, sour and umami. Paired with simply grilled calamari and greens foraged from the coastline, this is a dish to celebrate the sea. Food Safari Water

Grilled flathead, broccolini and chilli

Use a seasoned hard wood for the fire, preferably apple wood. Food Safari Water