Red Oak Grilled Tri-Tip and Santa Barbara Spot Prawns with Rosé Ancho Chili Sauce

Chef Lee Abbott’s famous Santa Barbara Surf n Turf
by Lee Abbott | Photography Lee Abbott

Created exclusively for Basil & Salt Magazine, the burst of coastal ranch and sea flavors matched with Altaneve Rosé Prosecco bubbles, creates the perfect pairing.

Watch Chef Abbot make it below!

Chef Lee Abbott's Santa Barbara Surf n Turf

You’ll Need

  • 1 – 2lb Tri-Tip
  • 1 lb. of Santa Barbara spot prawns, cleaned and peeled, tails on.

Of course you can substitute other prawns, but preferably you can find these as they are a firm, lobster-like meat with a sweet and delicious flavor – these are no ordinary shrimp! (Available Spring & Fall)

Dry Rub
I always make extra, and put the leftovers it in a spice bottle and keep it for when I want some quickly as it is a really versatile rub – great on burgers too!

  • 2 Tbsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1.5 tsp ground cumin
  • 1.5 tsp brown sugar

Prawns Marinade

  • 1 Tbsp of the dry rub
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp orange juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil

Whisk marinade ingredients together and place inside a Ziplock bag or plastic container, add prawns and shake gently to make sure the prawns are well covered – and chill until it’s time to grill.

Tri-Tip Prep
Carve/remove the layer of fat the butcher leaves across the back.  You “can” cook with it as some people like it, but I trim it up a bit – not too perfectly as I like some fat there. 

Generously rub entire tri-tip a least an hour before cooking, and leave to rest at room temperature.  You can also do this the night before, cover, chill and remove from the refrigerator an hour or two before cooking.  While the tri-tip is “seasoning” and coming up to room temperature, you can prepare the Red Wine Ancho Chili Sauce.

Rosé Ancho Chile Sauce

  • 2 large dried Ancho Chilies
  • 2 cups medium bodied rosé wine
  • 2 Tbsp Champagne Vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Soak the 2 large dried Ancho Chilies in hot water until they turn soft and the water is a nice rust color.  Pull from the water and remove the stems – you “can” remove the seeds as well but I like the heat. 

Combine all ingredients into a blender and blend into a smooth puree.

In a saucepan, combine puree and rosé wine, simmer to reduce the liquid volume by about half.  Be sure to pick a medium bodied rosé – one that isn’t too acidic and dry or the flavor won’t come through.  Then, add the mix to the blender along with the vinegar, honey, add the salt and pepper.  While the blender is whirring, slowly drizzle in the olive oil into the mixture and blend until emulsified. Sample and season to taste.

Greens for Plating

  • 3 oz. fresh arugula greens
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper

Whisk all olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper together and set aside for plating – lightly tossing the Arugula at the very last moment to keep the greens from wilting.  This is NOT a heavy dressing – just enough to moisten the Arugula and to deliciously mix with the Rosé Ancho Chili sauce during plating.

I use a charcoal grill, and add Red Oak to the coals – it really is the most traditional flavor here in Santa Barbara.  This also works just fine on a gas grill (but if you can add some wood chips for some smoke you will be happier!)

Grill over medium high heat for about 8 minutes.  Then flip for another 8 – flip back for 4 – flip again for 4 – “ish”  Gonna take about ±25 min total cooking time depending on the thickness of the steak and the heat of your coals. 

For Medium Rare, pull when your thermometer reads 130 – even “just under” as tri-tip is much better undercooked vs. over.  Also because of the varying thickness of the “tri” shape, each Steak will naturally have both nedium rare and medium portions.  Let rest for 10 minutes – then carve ACROSS the grain.

While the tri-tip is resting – grill your prawns.  These cook very fast and the marinade should give you a nice flame flare-up. These take only about 1-2 min per side until beautifully pink with a nice char.

Start with a nice light bed of the dressed arugula, layer a few slices of tri-tip, then top with 2-3 prawns. Drizzle the whole stack with your Rosé Ancho Chili Sauce. 

Pair with a lovely wine and good company!

Cook…Wine Lover…Adventurist
Lee Abbott embodies the flavor of the California coastal lifestyle ­ big, bold, sexy. Just a few of his experiences include, pro water skier,  sharing Tuac rice moonshine with the Iban tribe of headhunters in Borneo,  growing up riding horses and motocross, Lee Abbott lives his motto every day… TASTE LIFE.

Lee set out on his career path at the early age of 7 cleaning ­up for his neighbor the butcher, and when The Country Meat Market moved into BBQ and Catering, Lee evolved with the business.

By 20 he was cooking 3 meals a day for 20 hungry pro water skiers at a Training Center in Florida. Returning to his California roots, he studied History and Art History at UCLA. While breaking into Hollywood, he did more than his share of waiting tables, tending bar and became a celebrity personal trainer. The first private dinner party he personally catered, included Herb Ritts and Madonna as guests.

“Name a great day in your life.” says Lee, “And I bet it ended with a fabulous meal shared with special people.”

In 2016, Lee showcased his amazing chops on Food Network’s All­Star Academy. 25,000
people applied, 9 Contestants made the show, and it came down to one final plate. It was a once in a lifetime boot­camp with his all­star mentor Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli, who gave Lee high praise saying “Lee is an emotional cook just like me.” Lee became the series big hearted audience favorite ­ but was narrowly edged out in the very final dish.

Lee calls his food style ­ California Soul. He is a 7th Generation Californian who was born and raised on a ranch by the sea in Santa Barbara, and his bright flavors are inspired from Harbor to Vineyard. Lee Abbott is here to TASTE LIFE…with California Soul.

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