Shrimp And Pork Is The Alternative Surf And Turf To Discover

Steak and lobster — too long have you been the go-to team when it comes to the "surf and turf," the classic steakhouse combination of land-based and ocean-based proteins. There's nothing wrong with either of you. Steak, you are indeed intensely flavored, and lobster, you are lightly sweet and yielding, but your ubiquity obscures other possible pairings. Take, for instance, a classic land and sea combo that is already a beloved pairing in cuisines around the world: pork and shrimp. Neither garner the accolades that lobster and beef do when cooked in concert, but that's a darn shame. 

When comparing these meats, it is a bit easier to judge lobster and shrimp side-by-side. And though both are crustaceans, lobsters yield more meat and are considered a bit sweeter. But shrimp encompasses a wide range of species, from cheap and bland varieties to large prawns with meat that rivals lobster in quality. Steak and pork are a bit tougher to compare objectively, as one is a collection of various cuts, and the other includes a whole animal. What is certain is that pork and shrimp have what it takes to go toe-to-toe with steak and lobster. If you need proof, look at the numerous pairing examples that span global cuisines.

Pork and shrimp are an international pair

The allure of pork and shrimp in surf and turf lies in their ability to bridge culinary traditions, crafting memorable experiences that defy convention. In a world of endless gastronomic possibilities, this pairing of land and sea reminds us to reimagine the flavors gracing our plates and not simply accept convention.

Take, for instance, pork and shrimp picadinho, a simple Portuguese preparation of pork and shrimp that showcases how well the two marry. The two proteins stew together in a thin, lightly spicy sauce featuring plenty of garlic, piri piri hot sauce, and the popular Portuguese wine, vinho verde. The pork loin gets a deep flavor by marinating in the aromatics overnight, while the shrimp stays light by not joining the party until the very last bit of cooking. A final hit of lemon juice and chopped parsley give both a counterbalance of acidic and herbaceous notes. 

Moving east a bit, Vietnamese tôm rim thịt is quite a departure from picadinho. Here fatty pork belly and tender shrimp are glazed in fish sauce, Vietnamese caramel sauce nước màu, and sugar. The belly is slowly simmered until tender, playing off of the shrimp, which are served in their shells for a satisfying crunch.

Pairing pork and shrimp for classic surf and turf

Are there pork steaks? Sure, but we generally call them chops. If you've noticed how pork chops and ribeyes look somewhat similar, keen eye; they are somewhat analogous, anatomically speaking. Filet mignon, cut from the beef tenderloin, isn't that different from a pork tenderloin filet. For the pork portion of the surf and turf, you'll likely want a classic cut, like the pork chop. But as surf and turf is all about the presentation, go big. Treat yourself to a thick-cut chop that can stand up to a high-heat sear and remain a little pink and tender inside.

As far as the shrimp is concerned, you can go with classic steakhouse flavors. Sautéing the shrimp with loads of garlic, butter, lemon, and chopped fresh herbs would make for a delightful pork pairing. You can also throw out the rulebook and follow your own tastes. Pork and shrimp both do well with sweet and spicy flavors and a turn on the grill. A marinade of honey, chili garlic sauce, lime juice, and fresh black pepper makes for shrimp that are electrifying on their own or holding up their end of the partnership.