When you spend a lifetime chasing waves all around the world, you obviously learn a lot—what boards to bring, when and where to paddle out, how to build good relationships with locals–and, in Jim Kempton's case, how to cook. Which is what his new book, "First We Surf, Then We Eat," is all about.
As the ex-editor of SURFER, the ex-director of Quiksilver’s Crossings and the ex-owner of a restaurant in San Clemente, Kempton has lived a life perfectly poised to write a cookbook for itinerant surfers.
"I've probably been writing this book for about 30 years," says Kempton. "It's all about my travels. I started cooking and collecting recipes when I was really young, mostly out of necessity being on the road. You can't really afford to go to restaurants, so you learn to cook. I just started collecting recipes from all these places that I went and ate."
The book is chock full of recipes, stories and photos—all inspired by the places Kempton’s found waves and adventure. Australia, Hawaii, Indonesia, the Basque Country, Morocco and beyond—nearly every corner of the world where there are breaking waves, Kempton’s got a story and a recipe inspired by that place.
For those who are a bit clumsy in the kitchen, Kempton’s made each recipe easy to follow and duplicate. And if you’re worried it’s a book filled only with fish taco and California burrito recipes, fear not. The book has a wide range of recipes for many palates, featuring dishes like Mango Point Potage, Moroccan Grilled Lamb, Ono Poke Bowl and a Costa Rican Coffee-Rubbed Pork with Marmalade Glaze.
Kempton’s book will be released September 4th, which you can buy here. But in the meantime, enjoy three of Kempton’s favorite recipes (plus something to imbibe):
Seven Vegetable Tagine
“Tagines are both recipes and the pots they’re cooked in, with wide, shallow bottoms and tall, conical tops,” writes Kempton. “A Dutch oven is a good substitute for a tagine, but use the real thing if you can get one. This tagine dish is one of the succulent, savory, slow-cooked stews Morocco is famous for. I like to quickly stir-fry the vegetables before stewing them to seal in flavor and a bit of char. This sear-then-wet cooking method retains the vegetables’ nutrient-rich, flavor-intensified juices. Moroccans use the seven-vegetable combo for good luck. This simple recipe will bring good health, too. Note: Use Tunisian extra-virgin olive oil (available at Trader Joe’s) for North African authenticity.”
SERVES 6, with leftovers
1 cup sliced carrots (1-inch rounds)
1 cup sliced zucchini (1-inch rounds)
1 cup sliced yellow summer squash (1-inch rounds)
1 cup sliced onions (1/2-inch thick)
1 cup red bell peppers (1-inch pieces)
1 cup green beans (1-inch-long pieces)
1 cup Japanese eggplant (1-inch pieces)
1 sweet hot cherry pepper, minced (or 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Mix vegetables and spices in a mixing bowl. In a large tagine or Dutch oven, heat oil to almost smoking. Toss vegetables into pan and sear, stir-frying for 2 minutes or so. Add broth and cook over high heat until liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat, cover, and let flavors combine for about 15 minutes. Serve with couscous and lamb as part of a Moroccan meal, or with anything you’d like.
The “Maitai” Mai Tai
Although the mai tai didn’t originate in Hawaii, it was invented by aficionados of all things South Pacific in California tiki bars in honor of the Islands,” writes Kempton. “Legend has it that when Trader Vic made the drink for a guest from Tahiti, she took one sip and yelled, “Maitai roa ae!” meaning, “Out of this world–the best!” This recipe is the real deal. Its roots trace to both Don the Beachcomber in the 1930s and Victor “Trader Vic” Bergeron Jr.’s 1944 recipe, and it also pays homage to the Royal Hawaiian and Moana Hotel versions from 1953. And, of course, Lei Lei’s serves a mean rendition. Note: Orgeat is a syrup made from whole blanched almonds. The almond oil gives it a richness that you can’t get from syrup made with almond flavoring.
MAKES 1 COCKTAIL
1 cup crushed ice
1 jigger (1 1/2 ounches) spiced rum
1 jigger (1 1/2 ounces) coconut-flavored rum
2 ounces pineapple juice
2 ounces orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoons orgeat
1 tablespoon dark rum float
In a cocktail mixer full of ice, combine the spiced rum, coconut-flavored rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, and orgeat. Shake well, strain into a bucket glass, and float the dark rum on top. Garnish with a mint sprig. Or cherry. Or pineapple wedge. Or lime slice. Or whatever. You can’t go wrong. The Royal Hawaiian has seven versions. Whatever you choose, skip the freaking parasol–otherwise, you’ll miss the green flash.
Korean Short Ribs
“This is an updated version of the meat that would have been part of the plate lunch Buzzy [Trent] enjoyed,” writes Kempton. ” Eating it on an open beam eight stories up is not recommended.”
3 pounds short ribs, cut in 1/2-inch slices across the bones (flanken-style)
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup rice wine
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
8 cloves garlic, peeled
1 small Asian pear, peeled, cored and quartered (or other pear or tart apple)
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
Rinse short ribs in cold water, pat dry, and place in a wide, shallow bowl. In another bowl, mix together soy sauce, brown sugar, rice wine, sesame oil, black pepper, and cayenne. Put onion, garlic, pear, and ginger in the work bowl of a food processor. Grind ingredients to a smooth puree, then add to soy sauce mixture. Add sesame seeds. This with 1/4 cup water. Pour marinade over short ribs and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight. Bring short ribs to room temperature, drain, and discard marinade. Cook short ribs on a hot grill or under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until nicely browned but juicy. Pile grilled meat on a plate and add traditional plate lunch items.
Tuna Steaks with Onion Marmalade
The Basques are great fishermen. They bring boatloads of tuna and cod into the little port of San-Jean-de-Luz, and during tuna season they grill freshly cleaned tuna steaks like this right out in the park next to the docks along the harbor. In this recipe, onions are cooked with sherry, sugar, bay leaves, and peppercorn to create a caramelized onion marmalade. It adds a great kick to fresh tuna, and you can do it on the grill just before you cook the fish.
6 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup cherry or wine vinegar
3 cups sugar
20 black peppercorns, cracked
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 pounds fresh ahi tuna, cut into 6 portions
Extra-virgin olive oil as needed
1 teaspoon piment d’Espelette
Light a charcoal grill and bring to medium-low heat or preheat a gas grill to 325 degrees fahrenheit. To make onion marmalade, heat an iron skillet over low heat on a range (or on cooler edge of grill) and add onions, sherry or wine vinegar, sugar, peppercorns, and bay leaf. Cook on low heat until liquid has almost evaporated and onions are translucent, about 15 minutes. Transfer to bowl and set aside. Brush tuna pieces on both sides with olive oil. Place on hot grill and cook for 2 minutes on each side, basting with a little oil and sprinkling with some piment d’Espelette. You want to just sear the ahi to retain its tenderness, texture, and flavor, like a steak. Transfer ahi to a serving platter or plates and top with onion marmalade. It’s delicious served over rice with sauteed peppers and mushrooms, but it’s spectacular on a bed of green lentils cooked to a creamy consistency.