Carpetbag steak

by | Mar 25, 2024 | Recipes

For over-the-top taste from low-effort cooking, nothing can beat carpetbag steak. Prime-cut steak stuffed with fresh oysters makes a truly special meal to impress family, old friends or even special new friends.

The name carpetbag steak comes from the handbag that was popular with travellers in the USA from about 1840 to 1870.

Food historians generally agree that this dish probably began life in America. Australians then wholeheartedly adopted it. Over the years it became a luxury dish, reaching great heights of popularity in the 1950s and 1960s in both Australia and New Zealand.

“I have, over the years, received more requests for carpetbag steak than almost any other dish.” The Captain Cook Book: Two Hundred Years of Australian Cooking, by Babette Hayes.

Carpetbag steak is a dish of wonderful contrasts. Mouthwateringly tender sirloin, rump or fillet steak provides the perfect setting for the briny sweetness of Mahurangi oysters. In fact, according to Rodney Dunn, a writer for Gourmet Traveller, “The carpetbag steak is a surf ‘n’ turf classic that once again proves that oysters and beef are a match made in heaven”.

carpetbag steak slices

Carpetbag steaks for two

Print Recipe



  • Remove your steaks from the fridge about 30 minutes before you plan to cook so they are at room temperature.
  • With a very sharp knife, cut a slit in the side of each steak. Then create a pocket by pushing the point of the knife into the middle. Next, use your finger to expand it enough to snuggly fit three oysters. If your pocket is too big, you can use a toothpick to hold it closed once the oysters are sitting safely inside.
  • Heat your frying pan to medium hot.
  • Drop in the butter.
  • Once the butter is sizzling, but not brown, put the steaks in and season with pepper and salt. Turn once to ensure the steak is cooked to the required degree of doneness for your liking. I like about 4-5 minutes each side.
  • You do not want the oysters cooked through, but they should be warm.
  • Allow the steaks to rest for at least five minutes before serving. Cover them loosely with foil to keep them warm.
  • Serve with creamy mashed potato and steamed green vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, or green beans.


At Mahurangi Oysters we have been known to drink the odd wine or two. However, we do not proclaim ourselves as wine experts; we are oyster experts. So, I asked Mrs. Google what wine she would recommend with carpetbag steak with Mahurangi Oysters.
This is what NZ Focus magazine had to say: “Pair this dish with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon and you’re in for a treat. The bold flavours of the steak are a perfect match for the full-bodied red wine.”

The oyster of choice

Thanks to our careful husbandry and intelligent market selection, our plump Pacific oysters have become the oyster of choice in the Auckland restaurant scene and are exported in large numbers to Pacific Rim countries.

Feel free to contact us directly should you want more information. As a family business, we are very proud of what we produce and sell – and we only sell the best.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This