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Black Pepper: King of Spice

Chef Interview: Floyd Cardoz

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Black Pepper Shrimp, Watermelon and Lime Salad
From Floyd Cardoz, Tabla, New York 

In this summery salad, Floyd Cardoz uses black pepper to intensify layers of vivid flavor—the sweetness of the shellfish and melon, the green aromas of the herbs, the salt of the capers, the tang of the lime juice.  With a deft hand, he marinates the shrimp in a pungent black pepper-coriander seed paste, then underscores the theme in a dressing spiked with ginger, chili and more pepper.   

To serve 4 

Ingredients for the shrimp:

8 jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 tablespoon black pepper, finely ground
1 tablespoon coriander seed, finely ground
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt
1/4 cup canola oil to cook the shrimp 

Method for the shrimp: 

1. Combine the ground spices with the extra-virgin olive oil in a medium bowl.
2. Toss shrimp in the spice paste.  Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
3. Remove shrimp from the marinade, wipe away excess and season with sea salt.
4. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat for one minute.  Add the oil and heat until shimmering.  Carefully place seasoned shrimp in the pan and cook until crisp, about 2-3 minutes per side. Drain shrimp on rack or on paper towels. 

Ingredients for the salad: 

Chat masala to taste (available at Indian and Asian groceries)
Black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon peeled and minced fresh ginger root
1 hot chili pepper, seeds removed, minced fine
2 limes, one zested and cut into segments, the other squeezed for juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cups diced watermelon, seeds removed
2 sprigs mint
1 sprig cilantro
1/4 cup thinly sliced breakfast radish (or any mild tasting radish) 

Method for the salad:

1. Combine lime zest, lime juice, ginger, chili, chat masala, black pepper and extra virgin olive oil in a medium bowl.
2. Combine the watermelon, radishes, lime segments, mint, and cilantro in a separate bowl.
3. Just before serving, dress the salad by slowly pouring the juice mix over the vegetables and herbs. 

For the garnish:

4 tablespoons salted capers soaked in warm water for 10 minutes, dried and quickly stir fried in one tablespoon of canola oil.

To serve:  

1. Divide the dressed salad equally among 4 small plates
2. Place 2 shrimp on top of each salad.
3. Garnish with fried capers.


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