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I've run into several recipes which asked for a "splash of" water, soy sauce, etc. How much is a "splash"? I assume if it's something more concrete like 1/4 cup, they would have said so. Since it's a "splash", I just poured some (1/2 a cup) water into a coffee cup and poured once around the pan, although, my control isn't that good so I probably ended up pouring 1/4-1/3 of a cup.

Everything still tasted ok but I'm just curious what a "splash" is.

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    It's a hint for "the recipe writer doesn't know either and/or doesn't want to guarantee a blind flavor balance and/or can't be arsed" :) – rackandboneman Jun 12 '17 at 8:45
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    @rackandboneman: +1 for "or can't be arsed". Splashes, dashes, and, most definitely, rashes should be avoided in recipes. Pinches too, if you ask me. – Willem van Rumpt Jun 12 '17 at 15:48
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    Yes, because they can lead to recipe failures, unintended mashes, and thus flashes, gashes, crashes and (hopefully not) lashes. – rackandboneman Jun 12 '17 at 19:53
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    If you're lucky, you get hashes. – Joshua Engel Jun 12 '17 at 21:39
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I'd have to do some testing to get firmer values for things, but they're still ranges, as it depends on what you're pouring it from. Here's what I typically use for imprecise measurements:

Liquids

  • dash : a quick shake from a bottle with a restricted top. If it doesn't have one of those plastic things in the neck of the bottle, cover the opening partially with your thumb. (likely less than a teaspoon)
  • splash : From a bottle with an unrestricted top, tip the bottle 'til the liquid starts flowing, then pull it back. (maybe a couple of tablespoons at most)
  • glug : start pouring at a steep angle, stop when the bottle attempts to aspirate (air is sucked back into the bottle, making a 'glug' sound; very dependent on the size of the bottle opening and liquid's viscocity; might be a couple of tablespoons to a half cup)

Solid powders/granules

  • dash : a shake or two from a container w/ a restricted top (eg, a shaker top on spices)
  • pinch : what you can pick up between your thumb and one finger (note: dependent on what you're picking up; you can pick up more flaked salt than fine salt in a pinch)
  • heavy pinch : what you can pick up between your thumb and two fingers

Misc

  • smidge : very small, but I have no clue. I typically use a dash or a pinch.
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    Should I start a wiki for this, like the translation one? (which has 'tin' ... and knob/pat/stick of butter) – Joe Jun 13 '17 at 12:01
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    Fine by me, provided you're also going to include the generous, good and solid dash/splash/glug, and the generous, semi-heavy and slight pinch. Perhaps we can base it of musical notation? A quarterdash, a semisplash, a hemidemisemiglug, a full pinch? – Willem van Rumpt Jun 13 '17 at 13:57
  • @WillemvanRumpt : I'd make it community wiki, so people can add whatever other strange measurements they knew of – Joe Jun 13 '17 at 14:05
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    Nothing wrong with it of course (I actually agree on the pinch, that's how I interpret it). But wouldn't the list be highly subjective? Is your splash my splash, your dash my dash? (Un-)restrictedness of the bottle top (larger/smaller) and size of the shaker top make it even less accurate. In "the glug" case: It's the difference between 30-45 ml to 125 ml. It would be more of Cabinet of Curiosities than anything else. – Willem van Rumpt Jun 13 '17 at 15:31
  • @WillemvanRumpt : maybe we need to list all of the possible interpretations, so that we can determine a range for them. – Joe Jun 13 '17 at 18:24
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I would measure a splash by the second - that is, holding the container (usually bottle) about a foot above the pan, and pour about a second or two's worth of liquid. Or to put it another way, stop pouring about when the stream of liquid hits the pan and consider that mid-air-stream a (medium) "splash".

I would usually get a couple tablespoons of liquid pouring this way. Of course, stronger liquids usually come in smaller mouthed bottles so less gets poured - for soy sauce, I'd get a few teaspoons, for water (from a cup) a few tablespoons, for something like liquid smoke - a few drops since the bottle's opening is very small.

More generally speaking, I've always considered "splash", "dash", "sprinkle" and other such measurements to be an equivalent for, like oft cited for salt and pepper, "to taste". Or perhaps "to texture", depending on the what-where-when that's being added. The recipe doesn't have a measurement because it isn't recipe-critical how much is actually added, it's just to the preference of whoever is cooking.

  • Yes, Megha, thank you for your usual breath of fresh common sense. +1 for "doesn't have a measurement because not critical how much". – Lorel C. Jun 13 '17 at 15:45
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    +1. The "to taste" in the last paragraph seems a better approximation for any of these vague tiny measurements than any quantification. – Willem van Rumpt Jun 13 '17 at 16:42
  • If you hold the bottle a foot above the pan, you may get more 'splash' (and subsequent cleanup) than you wanted. – Joe Jun 13 '17 at 18:25
  • @Joe - it depends on how high the sides are, and what it's being poured into - most of my pans will take that much easily, only the frying pan would need consideration. Then again, once I have an idea how much I want, I can pour from closer if the pan is shallow or the contents unaccommodating - it's just easier to visualize the amount from a distance when explaining – Megha Jun 13 '17 at 18:30
  • I think you're right. It's a lot shorter than writing "1 tablespoon, or to taste" which is a form I've seen in the past. – Chris H Jun 15 '17 at 12:42
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A splash is a small amount, definitely not 1/4 of a cup. This is obviously a subjective thing, but I'll try to put some numbers on it. Once I did a quick measurement of my soy sauce bottle to get an idea of how much I was using when I added a few shots (the bottle had a pin hole top and the soy came out in bursts when the bottle was shaken, I call that a shot). It turned out with that bottle about 6 shots was a teaspoon. If a recipe called for a splash of soy I'd have done 5 or 6 shots with that bottle, so I would call a splash of something about a teaspoon, aka 5ml, maybe up to 10ml. It's a non-specific amount so you don't need to be too worried about it.

Why don't recipes say to add a splash of something instead of an actual measurement? It could be laziness, the author didn't measure the amount used so adds subjective amount (I've been guilty of that once or twice), or rather than laziness the author didn't have time to grab a measuring spoon as the water was required quickly. It could also be the author's style choice, favoring a freestyle approach to cooking rather than specifying everything.

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