The Poorman’s Surf and Turf?

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What if your budget does not allow for steak and lobster, shrimp with bacon is a wonderful flavor, and that could be defined as surf and turf, right? Well, how can we make this healthier?

I remember one of the first dates that I had with my wife. She ordered lobster. This will sound like a line, but she did later admit that she wanted it, because the lobster was the most expensive item on the menu. She had never eaten lobster before, and she did not eat much of it that night (why does he remember that fact after all these years- typical husband). Later, she did learn to love lobsters, and I loved preparing them. There was a point where I was preparing seafood every Friday night. Then a relative lived with s for a while; she was allergic to shellfish, so good bye to lobsters. Later, with the children, the seafood experience in the house has been a mixed bag, and I was not sure how they would take to my using shrimp for a meal last night.

   My father has been making sausage and schinken (a cured ham from Germany).  Since he came into town, he brought me a sampling of  his projects. Everything was well received (by the way schinken smoked with cherry wood is fantastic). He brought two types of summer sausage. I think my son was gobbling these up, since they went fast. I know that the turf in surf an turf should be a steak, but sausage goes over well in my family, so when I saw a bit of summer sausage was left, I thought of using it with my shrimp.
    Eating seafood is healthy. Bacon and shrimp is a great flavor combination, but I cannot sell that as healthy. I have always tried to make balanced and healthy meals, but if you have read a few other posts here, you may know that my wife is on a health mission due to her experiences with working at a hospital. I use little oil when preparing meals. I try to use only healthy oils. My wife really wants no oil. Since I bake and roast along with boiling, I do cut down on oil use, but pan frying makes wonderful dishes. This left me with the dilemma of how to prepare this meal.
    I harvested the last of my cabbage this week. I thought of baking the shrimp on a bed of cabbage. Not too exciting. I also wanted more color. I puled some green onions, which added color and flavor. I then sliced carrots and celery on a bias. This was looking like a stir fry. Instead, I placed these ingredients in a skillet with water. I also cubed the summer sausage.  Braised would be the apt description for my cooking method. The water simmered away. I added pepper and cumin to enrich the taste. Yet this was not enough. I dashed in some soy sauce and fish sauce. Fish sauce can have a horrible smell when cooking, but it certainly gives a wonderful flavor when it is in a dish. Once all of the items in the meal had cooked, I thickened the sauce with a corn starch slurry. Before serving, I added chopped lemon balm to the dish.

    This was served over rice. Everyone enjoyed the meal. All of a sudden, Katya announced that shrimp was her favorite (she only would eat shrimp if we bought it at the farmer’s market in the past).  My wife was happy that the meal did not use additional fats. Summer sausage may not replace bacon, but it worked well in this preparation. When my wife asked the name of the dish, I joked a poor man’s surf and turf, but maybe I should have gone with a more Asian sounding name? Soy sauce is used as a standard ingredient in many parts of the world. Fish sauce is the stranger item, associated with Southeast Asian cuisine. If you splash it into a stir fry, you do get a nose full, but in this preparation, you do not get that odor. My children love meals with fish sauce, which, to my mind, is that most people would like it in a meal. I guess I could have added galanga or ginger for a more Asian flavor profile. Using lemon balm felt Mediterranean to me. Lemon grass as a substitute? It is beginning to grow now in Houston. My family did think that this dish was a stir fry, so maybe this braising method could work for other meals. I say braising, because I used a little water in the skillet, but I did not brown first, which does happen in most braises. I could experiment with browning without oil. That does work, but a pan fry with a little oil works better. I have stuck these skillets into the oven to braise, and this does cause the top of the dish to brown. I think that if I experiment with this fake stir fry further, I may make my wife happy with her idea of healthy food. 

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This site came out of my desire to write about my love of gardening, but also to connect it to my knowledge derived from home inspections. That is why I tied it to the home inspection site.If you have questions, you can email them to me (frank at For home inspections, call 713.781.6090.
Happy gardening, Frank


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