Anyone who has watched as Asian cook in
action knows that all of the measurements used are 'by eye' and 'by hand'.
It would be considered an affectation to use standard measuring spoons and
cups. That's fine for someone who knows what they are doing and also knows
how to adapt the amount of a certain ingredient used (such as chilies or
ginger) according to the variety and heat of the chili, or the age and
strength of the ginger. But for the average Westerner venturing into the
exciting world of Asian cooking, guidelines are required.
Spoon measures are fine when it comes to
teaspoons and half or quarter teaspoons. But talk about tablespoons and we
are in troubled waters. In most Western countries the tablespoon measure
is equivalent to 15 ml or three 5 ml teaspoons. In Australia the standard
tablespoon is equal to 20 ml or four 5 ml teaspoons. When it comes right
down to it, the home cook usually reaches for the home cutlery set and
uses that. Those tablespoons can vary. In most recipes, and measuring most
ingredients the difference is not crucial. However, when measuring
gelatine, yeast, baking powder or bicarbonate of soda, a difference of 5
ml could make a dramatic difference to the result.
All measurements are level. A heaped
spoonful should not be used because my 'heaped' could be different to
yours. When measuring dry ingredients such as flour, do not press down
into the cup. Do not shake or tap the cup on the bench as that will cause
the dry ingredient to settle and result in more than is intended for the
recipe. Spoon in, and level off with the back of a knife so that it is
just to the rim.