Pricing prevents miscommunication while build trust in F&B

Cai png is economic rice

Cai Png is a dish of economic rice. The term “economic” refers to the affordable dish of rice with several selection of veggies and/or meat.

Unfortunately, there is no price label on the varieties of veggies or meat (aka dishes). Regulation is lax. Hence, regular customers are accustomed to becoming smarter, i.e., they are able to identify expensive dishes (in order to avoid them).

Bait or trap?

Sometimes, meat fried with a batter (aka fritter) can make it difficult to identify the dish. It is thus prudent to ask the stall owner or helper for the identity of the meat, else you will be charged higher for fish, prawn, squid or other seafood. In addition, any veggies fried with anchovies, small shrimps, or other seafood may also be charged as meat or “seafood”, and you end up paying higher price for the dish than normal veggies.

It is unfortunate that you are misled to think that you are ordering vegetables, while in actuality you are not. It may be frustrating when you have to argue with the stall owner. It brings back memory of pre-Jover Chew’s Sim Lim Square time when regulation and standards were poor there (ref. 3).

It is a trap

A cai png with fish at AMK Mayflower hawker centre that cost $11 was a trap (ref. 1). It was a TRAP because the dish was not priced and customer assumed that the dish in a hawker centre should be reasonably priced. Unfortunately, there was no price label or pricing table. It is understandable that the customer was shocked and upset.

The owner had justified the price of her mackerel at $8 per slice by suggesting that her fish was bought “fresh” versus frozen. Such justification is completely irrelevant and illogical. What’s next, Premium Wahyu beef fritters fried with veggies that would cost $10 per scoop? If she had the audacity to price her fish slice at $8, she should be more responsible to include a price tag there to prevent potential misunderstanding, especially when cai png at hawker centre is hardly as expensive as hers.

Alas, it is understandable that she had more motivation to lay the “trap” at her stall for gullible patrons to step than to act responsibly (by displaying the price). Unfortunate for her, in the age if social media, her act can become viral (i.e., highly shared in social media).

Include price to build trust

If you want to build cuatomer trust, ensure your business practices are ethical. Else, you will become viral and untrustworthy, regardless of how much you justified your act (especially when it made lesser sense after the reasoning).

Reference

  1. Cai Png with fish from AMK Mayflower hawker centre costs S$11 (https://mothership.sg/2022/06/economy-rice-expensive-singapore/)
  2. Hawker who sold viral $11 cai png with fish explains why it is so expensive (https://goodyfeed.com/viral-11-cai-png-responds/)
  3. Jover Chew, former boss of Mobile Air jailed 33 months for conning customers, also fined $2000 (https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/jover-chew-former-boss-of-mobile-air-jailed-33-months-for-conning-customers)

How to download your certificates attained from NTUCLearning or SkillFuture

Steps are

  1. Visit https://www.myskillsfuture.gov.sg/content/portal/en/index.html
  2. Login with your SingPass
  3. Go to Menu (three line icon at top right)
  4. Select Skills Passport
  5. There will be a list of certificates that you have achieved

This is follow-up from previous blog in regards to Food Safety Course (FSC) Level 1 from NTUC LearningHub (ref. 1, 2).

Reference

  1. Finished FSC Level 1 via NTUC LearningHub (https://siekitchen.com/2020/12/30/finished-food-safety-course-fsc-level-1-via-ntuc-learninghub/)
  2. Food Safety Course requirement to work in F&B and how to register for that course (https://siekitchen.com/2020/12/24/food-safety-course-fsc-requirement-to-work-in-food-and-beverage-fb-how-to-register/)

Food Safety Course (FSC) requirement to work in food and beverage (F&B). How to register.

It is mandatory to have food safety course before one is allowed to work in F&B. The purpose of the course is to educate food and beverage handlers the good practices to ensure that F&B is safe for consumption. It minimizes the risk of contamination and poisoning.

NTUC Learninghub has online course about the above subject (i.e., Food Safety Course). It is a 7.5 hours course with assessment methods e.g., mcq, practical assessment, oral, and others. There are  parts, i.e., good  personal hygiene, safe ingredients, handling, store, housekeeping. Upon completion, participant will receive statement of attainment (SOA) from Skillfuture Singapore (SSg, refer to ref. 1-2).

Food Safety Course level 1 (since 30 Nov 2020) is administered by Singapore Food Agency (SFA) and Skillfuture Singapore (SSg). It was formerly known as “Follow Food & Beverage Safety and Hygiene Policies and Procedures” course (aka Basic Food Hygiene course or Food Safety and Hygiene level 1, refer to ref. 2).

Fee and payment (refer ref. 1). Supports are available, e.g., Union Training Assistance Programme (UTAP) and skillfuture credit (for Citizen). For Skillfuture credit claim, go to link (ref. 4) for FSC level 1 online learning. Click ‘claim skillfuture credit’. Login via Singpass. Follow the instruction to get the ‘claim id number’. An NTUC Learninghub representative will email you a link for claiming via skillfuture credit, complete the online form and paste the ‘claim id number’. Done.

Course schedule (ref. 3). Currrently, there is online course from NTUC Learninghub via Zoom. Book your slot and a representative will contact you asap to assist you. If you are new to NTUC Learninghub, you may need to provide personal information. Note that I don’t like to provide personal information over email.

UTAP: supports 50% course fees up to $250 per year.

Update: I have completed and passed this course (ref. 5)

Reference

  1. NTUC Learninghub mandatory Food Safety Course level 1 (https://www.ntuclearninghub.com/course/follow-food-and-beverage-safety-and-hygiene-policies-procedures/?gclid=CjwKCAiA8ov_BRAoEiwAOZogwfPB6_-p54rjNaAnCytjPC7_sOU_-tz0KIhFgBR23KE2MaECYNVJGRoC-J0QAvD_BwE)
  2. WSQ Food Safety Course Level 1 (https://www.eduquest.sg/courses/course/wsq-food-hygiene-course?gclid=CjwKCAiA8ov_BRAoEiwAOZogwQnuucZS519ItWQdb-XL8c4KuYN6sjiGMMruyi7kws3AhMZjjDe2mxoC9fQQAvD_BwE)
  3. NTUC Learninghub course schedule (https://www.ntuclearninghub.com/course/food-safety-course-level-1-synchronous-elearning/?action=schedules)
  4. FSC level 1 (synchronous e-learning), code tsg-2017501339 (https://www.myskillsfuture.sg/content/portal/en/training-exchange/course-directory/course-detail.html?courseReferenceNumber=SCN-200409359E-01-CRS-Q-0031336-FSS)
  5. Finished food Safety Course (FSC) Level 1 via NTUC Learninghub (https://siekitchen.com/2020/12/30/finished-food-safety-course-fsc-level-1-via-ntuc-learninghub/)

Costs incurred to hawkers

Study on the above topic will help most hawkers. For example, cost components for average hawker stall and other information conducted by Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) is important (ref. 1).

It suggested that raw material played the most cost for average hawkers, whereas rental contributed about 12% and utility at 9.3% (both at 21.3%).

Fig. 1 Cost component of average hawker centre (dated 2015; ref. 1)

As mentioned previously, the average cost of rental is $1500 with a range of $5 to $5000 (as offered bids; ref. 2). If a business operates daily without rest, then this translates to $1500/30=$50 per day from rental. Assume 12% rental cost is true, then total cost is $50/0.12 = $416. If daily total cost is true, then the cost of utility and rental would be $416 * 0.21 = $87.36. If raw material is approximately 60%, the cost is $416 * 0.6 = $250. Daily, a hawker would be spending $337.36. The rest is manpower and other service fees at approximately 20% (which is variable, because manpower could be business owner’s fixed salary and other service fees are variable).

To break-even, a business needs to achieve $337.36. If a bowl of product is $3, then the business owner needs 113 bowls per day. Subsequent bowls would be operating profit.

If I am to start a business in a location selling a dish, I will first determine the following:

  • Average footfall in the location per day (and especially compared during weekends)
  • Average peak time per day in hour.
  • Number of competitors
  • Average price of similar product around the location
  • Seats available
  • Parking area
  • Type of customers, e.g. workers, students, or other market segment.
  • Other marketing strategies.
  • Operations consideration, e.g. storage, freezers, footprint (sqm), process area (or kitchen), payment method (cash or cashless), and stall service provider (their efficiency), stall hygiene level (study the NEA awarded hygiene level, should be above Silver level; ref. 3)

Reference

  1. Examining the cost drivers of hawker food prices by MTI (https://www.mti.gov.sg/-/media/MTI/Legislation/Public-Consultations/2015/Examining-The-Cost-Drivers-of-Hawker-Food-Prices/fa_1q15.pdf)
  2. Hawker stall rental using bidding system is flawed (https://siekitchen.com/2020/05/16/hawker-stall-rental-using-bidding-system-is-flawed/)
  3. New food hygiene recognition scheme to replace existing grading system (https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/new-food-hygiene-recognition-scheme-to-replace-existing-grading-10446030, 19 Jun 2018)

ngoh hiang (five spice fritter)

ingredients

  • 1 packet bean curd skin
  • 500g minced pork belly (fatty)
  • 500 g fresh shrimps, minced
  • 400 g chestnuts (or jicama)
  • 1 egg
  • 6 garlic
  • 6 shallots

seasoning

  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp white pepper
  • 50 g flour
  • 1 tsp five spice powder

step

  1. mix all ingredients and seasoning together and marinate, >= 1 hr
  2. place 3 tbsp filling in lower half of bean curd skin (soaked first)
  3. roll it in and seal edges with egg yolk/washes (egg wash is mixture of egg, water, milk, cream and salt)
  4. optional step: steam >= 10 min, cut into smaller pieces, coat with flour and proceed to deep fry
  5. deep fry until ngoh hiang turns golden brown
  6. drain excess oil and paper towel
  7. serve

DIY chee cheung fun (rice noodle)

ingredients

  • 354 ml rice flour
  • 3 tbsp tapioca starch
  • 2 tbsp wheat starch
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp canola oil (and extra for greasing pan)
  • 354 ml lukewarm water
  • 236 ml boiling water

steps

  1. combine rice flour, tapioca, and wheat starch, and salt in mixing bowl
  2. add canola oil and lukewarm water
  3. whisk until smooth
  4. whisk in boiling water
  5. set aside and allow the batter to rest, 45 min
  6. use aluminium square cakepan for steaming rice noodle
  7. add batter to abiout 1/8 in thickness to prewarmed greased pan
  8. swirl around to coat evenly and steam, 3 min until noodle bubble up

Traditional white bread

Tradtional white bread should be soft and once toasted, good candidate for butter and kaya. This setup will complement with soft-boiled egg (softer than poached egg). Such setup is best for typical Singaporean breakfast.

Ingredients

  • 2 packages of 0.25 oz active dry yeast
  • 3 tbsp white sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups warm water (45oC)
  • 3 tbsp margarine/butter
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 6 1/2 cups bread flour

steps

  1. in large bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water
  2. stir in margarine/butter, 2 cups flour
  3. stir in remaining flour gradually
  4. when dough has pulled together, turn it out onto lightly floured surface
  5. knead dough until smooth and elastic, 8 min
  6. lightly oil large bowl, place in and turn to coat with oil
  7. cover with damp cloth and rest in warm place until doubled in volume, 1 hr
  8. dflate the dough and turn it out onto lightly floured surface
  9. divide dough into two equal pieces and form into loaves
  10. place them in lightly greased loaf pans
  11. cover loaves with damp cloth and let rise until double in volume, approx 40 min
  12. preheat oven to 220oC
  13. bake at 190oC, 30 min until the top is golden brown and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped

Aglio et olio spaghetti

ingredients

  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp salt (for sauce)
  • 450 g spaghetti
  • 3 cloves garlic,minced
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin oil
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 lemon zested (optional)
  • Freshly grated parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)

steps

  1. cook pasta, approx 8 min in salted water
  2. in large bowl, combine garlic, olive oil, 1 tsp salt, and red pepper flakes.
  3. warm over low heat, stir intermitently until garlic softens, 8 min
  4. drain pasta
  5. reserve 1/4 cup cooking water
  6. add pasta and water to garlic mixture
  7. mix well
  8. add parsley and lemon zest
  9. adjust seasoning to taste
  10. transfer to a large bowl
  11. serve with grated cheese (optional)

Chicken rice

pouched chicken

ingredients

  • 6 litres water
  • 1.8 kg whole chicken
  • 200 g young ginger, sliced
  • 150 g spring onion

base seasoning

  • 150 g chicken stock
  • 45 g sugar

method to prepare chicken

  1. heat water in deep pot until simmer
  2. add all ingredients except chicken
  3. add base seasoning
  4. next submerge whole chicken
  5. lower the flame and pouch 45 in
  6. soak chicken in cold water, 15 min
  7. cut chicken
  8. set aside

chicken rice

ingredients

  • 900 ml water
  • 375 g rice
  • 375 g brown rice
  • 150 g pandan leaves
  • 75 g shallots, finely blended
  • 75 g garlic, finely blended
  • 75 g young ginger, sliced
  • 75 g blue ring ginger, sliced (optional)
  • 30 g canola oil
  • 10 g sesame oil (optional)

base seasoning

  • 40g chicken stock
  • 15 g sugar

steps

  1. heat wok with oil, add young ginger & blue ginger
  2. saute until golden brown
  3. add garlic and shallot and continue saute until fragrant
  4. add pandan leaves and water
  5. add chicken stock into the wok after water simmers
  6. add sugar and whisk until dissolved
  7. heat until broth simmer and pour the broth into rice coker and cook rice for 45 min
  8. serve hot with chicken

Laksa Singapore

-ingredients

broth

  • 700 ml chicken stock
  • 100 ml water
  • 100 g ikan bilis (anchovies)
  • 4 tbsp veggie oil
  • 1 litre coconut milk
  • fish sauce
  • sugar
  • salt

rempah/spice

  • 8 shallots, chopped
  • 12 large dried red chilies soaked in lukewarm water, 1 hr
  • 200 g dried shrimp (hae bee) soaked in lukewarm water, 4 hrs
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, sliced
  • 12 candlenuts
  • 2 tsp shrimp paste (belacan), roasted
  • 5 cm piece fresh turmeric, peeled
  • 10 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp ground anise star
  • 1 tbsp coriander seed
  • 4 tbsp veggie oil

ingredients to serve (all cooked and ready to eat)

  • 300 g cooked thick rice noodle (bee hoon)
  • tiger prawns, cooked
  • 12 pieces perforated bean curd (tau pok)
  • pan-fried Chinese fish cakes, sliced
  • 2 eggs, hard boiled & halved
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 1/4 cup fresh laksa leaves (Vietnamese mint or daun kesom)
  • sambal belacan (see below)

-method (to prepare laksa broth)

  1. boil chicken stock and water in large pot
  2. add anchovies and simmer for 1 hr on medium heat
  3. reduce heat to simmer
  4. pound all rempah ingredients in mortar into smooth paste
  5. heat 4 tbsp veggie oil in a pan over medium heat and saute the rempah paste, 5 – 10 min until fragrant and dark brown
  6. mix in rempah and coconut milk to the pot of broth
  7. turn heat up to boil
  8. season broth with fish sauce, sugar and salt

Sambal belacan

-ingredients

  • 10 g dried shrimp paste (belacan)
  • 4 chilli padi
  • 4 red chillies
  • 2 calamansi (Kafir lime)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

-method

  1. Saute shrimp paste on dry pan until fragrant
  2. In a mortar, pound chillies and shrimp paste until homogenous
  3. add calamansi lime juice to the paste
  4. add sugar and salt to taste
  5. store the sambal belacan in a container

Procedure to serve laksa
-steps

  1. apportion and add all ‘ingredients to serve except curry leaves” to a serving bowl
  2. “Rinse or run through” the above ingredient with laksa broth several times.This will slow cook the ingredients.
  3. add in the laksa broth, sambal belacan (according to your spiciness level), and curry leaves.
  4. Serve hot.

Alternative ingredients to enhance flavour and texture

  • cooked blood cockle, shelled