Who's Cooking?: Ken Dorph of Sag Harbor
A consultant with financial institutions, Dorph lives in Sag Harbor with his spouse, Stuart, and their two children.
How did you discover Moroccan cooking? I was a pre-med student in college until I took an anthropology course and fell in love with that discipline. I spent part of my junior year in Morocco and went head over heels for the culture -- the art, the music, and especially the food.
What stood out about the food? First of all, the ingredients were so fresh. I was really impressed by that, coming from New York City, where everything was wrapped in plastic. The second thing was the unusual spices and flavor combinations. I don't think I had ever tasted cumin, or cinnamon used on meat. The combination of meat plus sweet plus significant spice I found really delicious.
How did you learn to cook Moroccan dishes? When I returned to the U.S. I bought a cookbook by Moroccan food expert Paula Wolfert, who I had met briefly when I was away. I made her lamb tajine (my recipe is based on hers) and her carrot salad, and they tasted exactly like what I had eaten in Morocco. I was amazed, and kept on cooking.
Where do you buy your spices these days? Things like cumin and cinnamon I get in the supermarket. Some items, like the tube of harissa I keep in my refrigerator, you can't get out here, so I bring them back either from the Middle East, when I'm there, or from the shops on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.
When do you serve lamb tajine? This is a good dish for a crowd. Last year I made it for our [kids'] school's multicultural festival, and I'm making it again this year.