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Jan 11, 2007 11:20 PM

need translation help on chinese measurements


I am hoping there are a few old time chinese cooks out there. I am starting a blog translating my mom's old chinese cookbook as a remembrance of her. However, her cookbook uses the measurements 钱, 两 and 斤.

Does anyone know what these translate to roughly in metric or english measurements? I have come across a dictionary dictionary entry that tells me that 斤 is equal to .5KG. But I don't know if that's accurate. Nor do I know how many 钱's and 两's there are in a 斤. Anyone out there with an answer?

Thanks so much! (X-posted to China Board & EGullet)

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  1. On my computer, the three items appear just as tiny boxes.

    2 Replies
    1. re: eve

      If you are running Windows XP, updating your browser to Internet Explorer 7 will fix it.

      1. re: RicRios

        Or going to View > Encoding > Unicode (UTF-8).

    2. According my dictionary (Oxford):
      钱 = 5 grams
      两 = 50 grams
      斤 = 500 grams

      These are traditional units, though, so their values have changed over time. E.g., the expression 半斤八两 (= "six of one, half a dozen of the other") suggests that 1 斤 was 16 两 at some point in history... (sounds like pounds and ounces)

      2 Replies
      1. re: CapnPrep

        斤 (T: 斤, P: jīn) - 500g. The official translation is "catty".

        两 (T: 兩, P: liǎng) - 50g. This also means "two" (in the sense of "pair"). The official translation of this is "tael".

        钱 (T: 錢, P: qián) - 5g. this also means "money" as in 5分錢 meaning 5 fen (1/20 of a yuan or a Hong Kong dollar). 分钱 (T: 分錢, P: fēn qián) means "tiny units of money", as opposed to 分钟 (T: 分鐘, P: fēn zhōng) which means "tiny units of time", or minutes.

        You may also run across 兝 (T: 兝, P: fēn) in baking recipes -- it's 0.1g.

        So, a catty with two taels is not a freak of nature but merely 600g.

        T = Traditional Chinese; P = Pinyin.

        1. re: CapnPrep

          I just did a search on Yahoo Hong Kong. There are two different type of 斤. They are 市斤 and 砰斤.

          The 5/50/500 measurements are correct for 市斤.

          As for 1斤 = 16两, that refers to 砰斤. And the equivalent in metrics is:
          1 两 = 37.5 g
          1 砰斤 = 600 g

          And from what I found, China uses 市斤. Hong Kong and Taiwan use 砰斤. So check where your recipes came from to figure out which to use.

        2. thanks so much! All this info is very helpful. I'll let you guys know when I start the first dish.

          1. I believe that

            1 斤 or one "catty" is pronounced "gun" in Cantonese,
            and is roughly a pound and then some.
            It's a common unit of measurement for street vendors in the greenmarkets and the perfect amount to make one dish of green veggies.

            1 两 is one "teal" and pronounced "leung" in Cantonese
            and is the unit of measurement used in the dried food shops for expensive items stored in glass apothecary jars like sundried seafood, or fancy mushrooms. I think of it as roughly an ounce.