Spice, heat, acidity, sweetness: New York City-based chef Floyd Cardoz made a name for himself at the now defunct Tabla — a restaurant food lovers still mourn — by marrying Southeast Asian ingredients and surprising flavor combinations with familiar dishes. Since Table's closure in 2010 Cardoz has bounced around, but is finally once again opening his own place: a proper Indian restaurant called Paowalla. Until then, for a taste of the noted chef's satisfying and memorable cooking, turn to his new cookbook, Flavorwalla, out now. Here's a teaser from the book, a simple shrimp sautée over a fennel salad that would make an ideal springtime brunch, lunch, or dinner.
Grilled Shrimp with Fennel and Radish SaladServes 10 to 12
When I cooked at the Charleston Wine and Food Festival a few years ago, I asked the owner of the home where I was cooking to order local shrimp for the dinner I was preparing. Shrimp that fresh and local have more bite and sweetness than shrimp that have to travel a ways to get to the kitchen. It was the inspiration of those Charleston shrimp that led me to this dish.
I began by simmering the heads and shells in plain water. They have so much flavor, and it takes nothing more than simmering them for a little while to bring it all out. After straining the stock, I reduced it until it was thick and rich, with almost sticky bubbles on top. If you take the time to allow the shrimp stock to reduce, you will be rewarded with some of the best, most velvety shrimp "gravy" you've ever tasted. The reduction takes about 30 minutes, but you don't really have to keep an eye on it until the very end, when it can go from almost ready to almost gone in a flash.
You want to use Lucknow fennel seeds in this dish. Lucknow fennel is more aromatic than regular fennel seed and here it highlights and enhances the sweetness of both the shrimp and the fennel salad.
For the Shrimp
1 tablespoon Lucknow fennel seeds
1½ teaspoons coriander seeds
1½ teaspoons black peppercorns
2½ pounds/1.13 kilograms (16-20 count) head-on shrimp, heads removed, shelled, and deveined, heads and shells reserved for Shrimp-Shell Stock
Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing
For the Shrimp Vinaigrette
Shrimp-Shell Stock (recipe follows)
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup canola oil
½ cup fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
A pinch of cayenne
For the Fennel Salad
1½ tablespoons Lucknow fennel seeds
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed, fronds reserved for garnish
12 to 15 red radishes
1 cup thinly sliced washed and dried cilantro leaves with tender stems (stack a few leaves at a time to slice)
¼ cup thinly sliced chives
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
¼ teaspoon Thai chile oil
Freshly ground black pepper
2 limes, cut into wedges, for garnish (optional)
About 10 long metal or bamboo skewers
1. To marinate the shrimp, finely grind the fennel seeds, coriander seeds, and peppercorns in a spice/coffee grinder. Toss the shrimp with the spices and place in a ziplock bag. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, and up to 24 hours.
2. To make the vinaigrette, place the shrimp stock in a large wide saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil until reduced to ¼ cup, about 30 minutes; keep an eye on it during the last few minutes, when it will reduce more quickly. Set aside to cool completely.
3. Transfer the cooled reduced shrimp stock to a clean jar and add the olive oil, canola oil, lemon juice, salt and black pepper to taste, and cayenne. Close the jar tightly and shake vigorously until well combined. Refrigerate until chilled, or for up to 1 day.
3. If using bamboo skewers, soak them in water for 40 minutes.
4. Prepare a high-heat grill.
5. While the grill is heating, remove the shrimp from the refrigerator and season with salt. Thread on the skewers. Set aside at room temperature until needed.
6. To prepare the fennel salad, in a small heavy-bottomed skillet, toast the fennel seeds over medium-low heat, shaking the pan frequently, until fragrant and several shades darker, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool completely.
7. Cut the fennel bulb in half and cut out the core. Thinly shave it using a mandoline. Transfer to a large bowl.
8. Thinly shave the radishes, using the mandoline. Add them to the bowl with the fennel. Set aside.
9. Finely grind the fennel seeds in a spice/coffee grinder and add to the fennel and radishes. Add the cilantro, chives, ginger, chile oil, and salt and pepper to taste to the bowl and toss to combine.
10. Just before grilling the shrimp, add enough vinaigrette to the salad to thoroughly coat it, tossing until well combined. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Arrange the salad in the center of a large platter. Set aside.
11. Brush the shrimp with olive oil. Grill, turning once, until the shrimp are firm and cooked through, about 4 minutes.
12. Remove the shrimp from the skewers and arrange them around the salad. Pour the remaining dressing around the shrimp. Garnish with the reserved fennel fronds and the lime wedges, if desired, and serve.
Cooking Time: About 1¼ hours / Inactive Time: 1 to 24 hours for marinating
Place the reserved shrimp heads and shells from above in a large wide saucepan. Add 6 cups cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain, pressing on the shells with a spoon to extract all of the liquid. Discard the shells and heads.
Excerpted from Floyd Cardoz: Flavorwalla by Floyd Cardoz (Artisan Books). Copyright ©2016. Photographs by Lauren Volo.