Standardized Recipe – Guide to making your own

03Sep08

Standardized Recipe Ideology

A standardized recipe refers to a particular standard-of-use of certain metrics in cooking – Standard sizes, time, temperature, amount, etc. Abiding by this rule creates uniformity in kitchen produce, whether or not it is tangible or intangible.

The idea of a standardized recipe is definitely not alien to many of us anymore. In fact, it has been very widely used around the globe and there are certain metrics to a standardized recipe that we must follow. In the kitchen, a standardized recipe is a crucial part of standardizing dishes, ingredients and elements in a restaurant that might lead to gain or loss during operational hours. Certain restaurants benchmark standardized recipes in their kitchen, some do not. There are pros and cons of using standardized recipes.

Benefits of having a Standardized Recipe

  1. Creates an absolute standard in kitchen produce and cooking activities.
  2. Allows smooth transition between different kitchen staffs.
  3. Maintains food quality and food standards during kitchen operational hours.
  4. Guiding tool for newcomers to the kitchen.
  5. Refresh minds of kitchen staff after some time. (Eliminating guesswork)
  6. Referral material should there be any disputes.
  7. Base for costing when kitchen costs are calculated.
  8. Be a great guide to implementing a new menu should there be any need.
  9. Planning and costing purposes when a particular event needs accounting/kitchen control auditing.
  10. Prevents raw food leftovers (with good Kitchen Control)

Cons of having a Standardized Recipe

  1. Inconvenient – This can be from the Head Chef keeping the list of standardized recipe in his room and had it locked or having three big books of standardized recipe and need kitchen staff to flip over one by one to get everything done. Inconvenience is the number ONE factor that led to kitchen staff not using standardized recipes.
  2. Time consuming – This is also one of the reasons why standardized recipe are not followed. During peak hours, a kitchen do not have time to waste, and every second counts.
  3. Better variations – Some Chefs prefer to follow their centric of taste, some are just worship their own believes. This could cause a problem when there is no proper training provided and Kitchen Control.
  4. Rules are meant to be broken – There are always different people/consumers around your restaurant. What’s important, the customers. When standardized recipes are not tested regularly on the restaurant, inaccurate information may be provided in the standardized recipe. Solution: Leave room or space for food/cooking variation. This usually happen when the Head Chef is not properly organized or trained well for his position.
  5. A secret no more – Some restaurateurs or Chefs frown on making a book of standardized recipe because they want to protect their food knowledge. This is a classic perception: Someone comes by, takes all the recipe and leave the restaurant after a month.
  6. When it’s gone, it’s really gone – At certain times in a restaurant, a piece of recipe sheet can get lost. When it’s lost, there will be a slight havoc in understanding as the Head Chef needs to take action immediately. On another situation, it can also be ‘stolen’ or ‘retrieved’ as management of the restaurant changes, and/or someone steals the particular information, or the restaurant faces mishaps like kitchen on fire.

Standardized recipe do not necessarily have certain standards that you need to follow. There are many ways to actually personalize your standardized recipe, keep them into your book and use them for referrals in the future. Alternatively, you can also save them into your computer, and organize them well. Whatever it is, standardized recipes serve good purposes in a kitchen – Take the time to actually follow the steps, and you might just get happier guests/customers.

There are three (3) common ways of writing a recipe:

  1. Paragraph-style recipes
  2. List-style recipes
  3. Action-style recipes

Paragraph Style Recipes

This way of writing a recipe is classic – And they serve their own purpose in writing that way. There are many pros and cons to this kind of writing style, and we’d like to leave it up to you to figure it out. Anyway, here’s an example of a paragraph-style written recipe:

Put your skillet on the pan and turn on the heat to low. Now take a bowl, crack 2 fresh eggs inside and add in some salt and pepper. Next, grab a whisk and start beating it until it’s mixed or quite fluffy. When your skillet is hot enough, add in 1 tbsp of oil, and swirl the oil around. You’ll notice the oil runs faster on hot pans. When your pan and oil is hot enough, turn on the heat to high and pour in your eggs. Leave the heat on high until your eggs (at the side of the pan) forms a solid texture. At this time, reduce your heat to low. When your egg is cooked enough, flip it over and top it off with some ikan kering! Voilá!

Paragraph-style recipes can work at certain extent. Be sure to choose your methods of writing well.

List-style Recipes

The list-style writing of recipes is one of the easiest, practical and most common ways of writing a recipe. This method consist of two sections – The header, and footer. Header consist of different elements such as recipe title, temperature, yield, time, etc, while the footer contains methods to use these ingredients. An example of list-style recipes:

Eggs with Ikan Kering

2 no Eggs
1 tbsp Oil
Ikan kering

  1. Heat up your pan in low heat, crack two eggs into a bowl and add seasoning. Whisk well.
  2. When your pan is hot enough, add in your oil and wait until it’s hot.
  3. Pour it in and turn your heat to high, until you see the sides of your eggs are actually solid in texture.
  4. Reduce your heat to low, and cook the eggs well. Flip over.
  5. Top it off with some crumbled ikan kering and voilá!

Action-style recipes

Action style recipes has been known as the killer way of listing recipes, amount, methods and ingredients in a very organized and well-mannered. The first step will usually contain ingredients and methods limited to only a particular food preparation, and the list continues and combines with step two and three. Here’s an example:

Example of Action Style Recipe

Example of Action Style Recipe

Action-style recipes can be very directive and you can add in more information to your liking. Choose which is best for you and your audience, then pick the right one and give them value.

Standard Elements in a Standardized Recipe

Although we may see certain standard recipe metrics in a standardized recipe that may be both relevant and irrelevant to you, there are certain practical usage to it, and customizing your standardized recipe a good way to go when you need to emphasize certain recipe metrics in a recipe sheet. In a way, always think of your end-users rather than yourself.

Common Recipe Elements in a Standardized Recipe

  1. Ingredients
  2. Temperature
  3. Equipments & Utensils Needed
  4. Amount
  5. Method
  6. Media (Picture/Video)

These metrics are the basics – But what makes a better Standardized Recipe is to actually explain in detail what is the outcome, what should you avoid, what should you do and not do, etc. While these may be too long to squeeze into your methods area or the miscellaneous box in the action style recipe, you should include a section to it.

Recommended Standard Recipe Elements to Add

These recommended standard recipe elements are absolutely optional and should only be included at selected times. Note that most recipes require only the simplest of steps to take, and portrayal of information should be as concise, clear and to the point as possible.

  1. Taste – At what degree should this dish taste like, and how you can stretch its seasoning properties from there.
  2. Precautions and Warnings – Precautions while handling these food mix or cooking methods.
  3. Tips & Advice – Best way to beef up preparation methods and cook well without the need for practical training.
  4. What to do while waiting – Important steps or methods to follow or take while waiting cooking or preparing a food ingredient or food ingredient mixes, etc.
  5. Alternatives – Alternatives to this cooking method, or that food ingredient which might not be available in certain areas of the world. Should there be any alternative ways to do it, it should be pointed out.
  6. Halal status – Halal status is very important. Certain foods are pre-packed in a non-halal manner, or foods containing pork-based materials used in preparation or alcohol usage. For example, rum flavoring. Comes in halal and non-halal.
  7. Garnishing recommendations – This should be included and portrayed after recipe methods.
  8. Miscellaneous information – This information should be portrayed at the very bottom of the recipe, stating ways on how to prepare and cut this meat, or measure the intensity of cooking in the meat. This could also serve as a section where you throw in a combination of Taste (No. 1) and Tips & Advice (No. 3).
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