In this page, I’ll be providing definitions of terms and concepts that exists across the Suiyuan Shidan. If I can’t give a concrete definition, I’ll try at least to venture an educated guess.
Autumn sauce (秋油): This is basically a very high quality soy-sauce that is bottled in autumn after careful fermentation in the winter or spring and thorough sunning during the hot summer. It is supposed to be dark but very clear in colour, highly fragrant, with a rich umami taste. Xia Chuanzeng (夏傳曾) wrote about autumn sauce in the last chapter in his annotated addendum to the Suiyuan Shidan, known as the Suiyuan Shidan Buzheng (隨園食單補證, lit. Suiyuan Shidan extended and verified ).
Guun (滾): This is unit of time measurement, literally translated as a “boil”, like boiling water. In earlier posts, I decided to translate them to “moment” though I feel more now that this is forcing the translation. Yuan Mei uses this word to describe a very short period of time, which through my informal calibration with the expected cooking time of various ingredient, I believe to be around 3 seconds. I discussed this in the Random Notes of first the Sturgeon section and then later in the Pig’s Head section a bit, but more work needs to be done to figure out definitively how long this unit of time actually is.
Incense stick (一枝香): Depending on its thickness, an incense stick can last anywhere from 5 minutes to more than 1 hour or even 2 hours. In the few instances Yuan Mei, uses “two Incense sticks” (二枝香) to describe prolonged braising or stewing. If we calibrated it based on the expected cooking times of the foods described, an incense stick should be around 1 hour.
Jin (斤) : One Jin was 596.816g in Qing Dynasty prior to the Republic of China era, and is the conversion relevant to the Suiyuan Shidan. One jin in the People’s Republic of China is now 500g. In the Republic of China and other overseas Chinese communities, the weight of one Jin hovers around 600g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_units_of_measurement
Liang (兩) : One liang is 37.301g. Also known in English as a Tael.
Qian (錢) : One qian was 3.7g in Qing Dynasty China. The character also means “money/coin”, which hints that one coin from the period weighed around this weight.