Recipe Philosophy: Cook it as written.


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
I was reading this interview with Samin Nosrat today. It certainly makes me interested in her book.

This particular quote from the interviewer, not Samin, stood out to me today.
 FL: I edited a cookbook a couple of years ago with Tyler Kord. He's a great cook, an awesome, lovely person, and one of the funniest human beings alive. We were talking about his writing recipes, and he said, "It feels weird to write recipes because I usually don't cook out of recipes. But I've started to really love it." I asked him why and he said, "What I realize is, when I start cooking like I cook my food – and I cook my style – my dishes will smell a certain way. I know how they're supposed to smell because I know my cooking so well. When I follow someone else's recipe it's amazing because my house starts to smell like someone else's cooking.” When he starts following recipes he loves to follow them to the letter and not improvise, because if he improvises he goes right back into his style and his habits. He loves cooking someone else's recipe because he can actually taste someone else's food. I thought that was a lovely and generous way to look at it.
So often we look at multiple recipes for the same thing and then hybridize and twist them to what we think it should be without giving an original a try to discover what they think. We get so stuck in what we think. I like the view of being able to cook like someone else following a strict recipe rather than cooking like I do all the time. 
Joined Apr 16, 2017
That's an eye-opener.  I need to chew on that a bit.  I often cook "my way" because of the food sensitivities we have (e.g. no tomatoes), what I have on the shelf, and my lazy desire to convert to something that doesn't need to be watched on the stove top.  (I do rice in the oven.)  Would there be more taste variety if I followed recipes more closely?  Yeah, probably.  I think I need to wrap my head around this one.  

Thanx for sharing!
Joined May 5, 2010
When I worked as a private Chef, the client wanted recipes followed. He was in to Julia Child, Michael Fields, French Laundry, Charlie Trotters, etc.....and it was important to follow their directions carefully. 

The first time I made Coq au Vin  following my French Chefs recipe, I was told that it was "very nice" but please make it this way (Julia's).

Focaccia made from "The Baker's Apprectice" was also "very nice" but please use this recipe in the future....(also Julia's)


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
Interesting take on things.  When I cook foods that are new to me, come from a cuisine that I am not fully versed in, or are in any other way, well outside my realm of experience I always follow the recipes so that I have a starting point to know what things should taste like, but then I will start personalizing it to my tastes.  I can see the point though.  A good example of this is when I am cooking Indian inspired foods.  Most of my stuff, if I am not following an exact recipe, tends to have very similar flavors.
Joined Jan 8, 2010
I read this thread a while ago, but had no proper internet access at the time.

Quite an interesting outlook/discussion.
I generally adjust recipes, except the first time making it and then only f it is an unknown (to me) cuisine.

I like eating Thai and Indonesian food.
Generally when making Thai food, I reduce sugar as I don't have a sweet tooth.
This topic made me think that I should actually try following the recipes as I hardly found the food too sweet when traveling in Thailand (except for the springroll sauce).

And since I actually want to cook my way through Dave Thompson's recipes in "Thai food", this seems the time to start!
Joined Jan 25, 2013
the first time making something new, I try to stick to the recipe except for hot peppers/sauces.  Made a Cajun rice dish once and it was so hot, no one in the neighborhood would eat it.

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