When I first thought about doing a surf and turf burger, immediately what came to mind is riding a surf board with a cow and tackling some killer waves in Hawaii. But since neither I nor cows know how to surf, I decided to let that dream go down to Davy Jone’s locker.
The second thing which came to mind was lobster tail paired with a beef burger. It seemed a logical match because menus around the world often feature lobster and steak as a surf and turf offering. But then fate intervened. My game plan did a little change-a-roo when I saw a commercial for a burger with onion rings on top. It brought to mind a favorite summer time dish – fried calamari rings. Crack-Kow! (That’s the sound effect when I have an idea and an imaginary lightning bolt hits the top of my head) So instead of lobster, I decided fried calamari rings would be a great ingredient for a fun and tasty surf and turf burger.
Preparing Calamari for the Surf and Turf Burger
Calamari is the Mediterranean name for squid. Most often you’ll see it fried or grilled, but you can also saute calamari, as well as stuff it. If you’ve yet to try squid and are a bit leery if you’ll like it, chances are if you love shrimp or scallops, there’s also a good chance you’ll love calamari.
For this recipe I’ll be cutting the calamari into 1/4 inch rings and deep frying it (which reminds me of the onion rings on top of a burger).
Ingredients (makes a few cups worth of calamari)
- 2 large calamari bodies – cleaned
- 2 – 3 cups of milk
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup semolina flour
- 1 tbsp dry mustard
- 2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
- cooking oil for deep frying
- Make sure the spine and insides are cleaned out of the body and peel off the fins. When peeling off the fins, also remove the leftover thin membrane. Cut the bodies into 1/4 inch rings and put them in a bowl of milk overnight. Nope, the calamari isn’t thirsty – soaking them in milk overnight helps soften the squid.
- Preheat your oil to 375 F. I’m using a deep fryer but you can also use a deep pan or a pot to fry the calamari.
- Mix together the dry ingredients. Add the calamari rings into the flour mixture and thoroughly coat. Shake off the excess flour and drop the coated calamari into the fryer.
- Aside from soaking in milk, the other “secret” to tender calamari is to not overcook them. Calamari cooks very quickly and only needs a couple minutes in the fryer. Aim for a light golden color on the calamari. That’s usually a good guideline to ensure it’s cooked yet tender. If the rings start to dramatically curl outward, it means you’ve over cooked them and they’ll most likely be rubbery.
- Once cooked, allow the excess oil to drain off and set on a paper towel to soak up any excess grease. Lightly season with some salt (and a pinch of cayenne if you like a little bit of heat). Although I’m showing the recipe for the calamari first, I suggest timing the calamari and burger patty to be ready near the same time.
Making a Sauce for the Surf and Turf Burger
Seafood and sauce seem to go together like Burt and Ernie. Sure you know they lead separate lives but you still always see them together. Okay, so maybe comparing Sesame Street characters to seafood & sauce isn’t the best analogy in the world but I think you get the gist of what I’m saying.
For our surf and turf burger, we’ll be making a quick and easy homemade tartar sauce that has a little kick from horseradish. First start with a mayonnaise base. If you’ve never made mayonnaise before, here’s my homemade mayo recipe (or use store bought in a pinch). Then add the following list of ingredients and thoroughly mix.
Ingredients for the Sauce
(the mayonnaise from the link above or use 1 1/2 cups of store bought mayo)
- 2 tbsp capers, roughly chopped (dill or gherkins will do in a pinch)
- 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 heaping tbsp of horseradish
- 1 1/2 tbsp green onion or chives, finely diced
- dash of Worcestershire sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
* If you can, try to make the tartar sauce ahead of time. I find letting the sauce sit for an hour or two allows the flavors to really come together.
Assembling the Surf and Turf Burger
For the surf and turf burgers I went with an 80/20 (protein to fat ratio) naturally raised, Black Angus beef and formed 6 ounce patties. It’s been pretty nice out so I grilled the burger patties. Plus I think grilling the burgers for this recipe is a great idea. The char flavor plays really well with the sauce and calamari. When forming your patties, make sure to create a small indent (about the size of your thumbprint) in the center of the burger so it doesn’t ball up. Also, I suggest seasoning the burger patty with salt and pepper just prior to cooking and not before hand.
I’m going to use a Havarti cheese for the surf and turf burger . I think the creaminess and mild finish pairs up nicely with both the calamari and the beef patty. I’m also adding some roasted red pepper on to the burger simply because I’m in the mood for it. As for the rest of the assembly, it went a little something like this (from bottom bun to top):
Verdict on the Surf and Turf Burger
Flavor wise I have to say “surf’s up dude!” and also visually I love the look of the surf and turf burger. I like that this burger recipe has a lot of different flavor profiles coming together. The calamari is soft and tender and has a mild seafood flavor that doesn’t overpower the beef, sauce, or cheese. Another great thing about this surf and turf recipe is the ample amount of left over calamari that you’ll get to snack on. If you’re in the mood for a fun twist on seafood and hamburgers, then I’m sure you’ll really enjoy this surf and turf burger recipe.
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