How to Make Shrimp for Turf Style Restaurant Dishes

Published on August 15, 2022 | Updated on July 17, 2024 | by Allen Bixby

Surf and Turf is a popular steakhouse shrimp and steak dish. This will take you through everything you need to know to make shrimp for the surf portion of the this meal at home. For more on the the turf portion, check out our restaurant style steak prep and recipe tutorial.

Sizes (Scampi & Prawns)

Jumbo shrimp is the classic oxymoron. Shrimp, prawns or scampi are all technically the same critter. However, in restaurants shrimp are usually the little guys, prawns the step up in size and scampi are the big boys. Of course scampi is also a traditional way of preparing large shrimp, so let’s go with what we do know.

Shrimp are sorted by size, generally the larger the more expensive. The higher the number, the smaller the shrimp.

The smallest class is 61/70, or between 61 and 70 shrimp per pound.

This scale is used down to 16/20, again 16-20 per pound.

There are three more grades that switch the parameter, U15- less than 15 per pound, U12, and U10.

The most familiar sizes we know of as prawns range from 31/35 to 16/20. They’ll be about 2 inches or longer, plump enough that they are easy to deal with, offering one or two bites each.

Tale of two tails

Shucking and de-veining prawns is not a big deal, most people are more familiar with doing that when they are cooked.  Frankly, there are enough product choices, and the cost variable low enough, that you should just by them shelled and cleaned. With the larger varieties raw, or ‘ready to cook’ (RTC) is the common designation, what we want for this recipe. ‘Ready to Eat’ is what you want for shrimp cocktails and are a fully cooked item

Tail on or tail off is your next choice. That’s entirely personal preference. Some say the product looks better tail on because as they cook it will turn into a deeper red than the flesh. If you are making a tempura prawn then you want the tail as handle when battering them. We are going to sauté the prawns so it matters less. Go to the market and buy them fresh or frozen, cleaned, and RTC.

Close to cooking – Preparation

Prawns are a delicate meat with fairly mild flavors. So, they need to be cooked quickly to avoid an overcooked rubbery texture. Most restaurants will stick to a simple preparation, particularly as an accompaniment in a surf & turf meal.

Have at the ready;

Restaurant Style Shrimp (Turf) Recipe

Allen Bixby
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Calories 84 kcal


  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • ¼ Cup Garlic
  • 1 Pound Prawns
  • 4 Ounces White Wine
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian Parsley
  • ½ Lemon Lemon juice
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste


  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat.
    Add; Butter, Garlic
  • Keep the garlic moving in the skillet until it just begins to sizzle.
    Add; Prawns
  • What you are looking for is the flesh to just curl to the point of nearly touching the tail, this and a bright pink color means they are fully cooked. This happens in 3-5 minutes depending on the size of your prawns. Keep them moving in the skillet, flip the ones that do not show as pink on their topside.
  • When they have just begun to curl up add to the skillet;
    White wine, Parsley, Lemon juice, Salt and pepper to taste
  • Continue sautéing, moving the prawns until cooked. Dish into small bowls, spoon remaining pan sauce evenly over the top. Serve with a lemon wedge.


Calories: 84kcal
Keyword shrimp, surf turf
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
About the Author Allen Bixby

A retired restaurateur, not quite ready to stop playing in the kitchen.

I have had the pleasure of watching amazing high end chefs, and classic American style diner cooking, creating a very diverse background with food. Add both parents teaching English, watching Julia Childs and Graham Kerr as a child, and learning to bake bread from my Finnish great grandma, and you get a decent recipe for a knowledgeable voice to write about food.

From recipe design to equipment testing, there is a broad spectrum of entertaining aspects of food and how we do what we do every day to feed our loved ones!

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