When you visit your local Chinese restaurant, you will usually see both Lo Mein and Mei Fun on the menu.
Whether you consider yourself an expert in the area of traditional Chinese dishes, or you are a bit of a newbie when it comes to trying some of the traditional dishes, it is common to confuse these two traditional noodle dishes.
Now, the menu in a traditional Chinese restaurant is extensive, and decoding the descriptions can be hard.
This article will help you to understand the differences between the two dishes, helping you to make your decision on which dish you will choose when you next visit your favorite Chinese restaurant!
Mei Fun is a traditional Chinese dish which consists of noodles that are made from water and rice. This dish originates from China and is now used across Asia.
The noodles are common parts of many Asian dishes. It is also eaten across the world.
While the noodles are traditionally just made from the two ingredients – rice and water – there are many variations that contain other ingredients, altering the flavor and the color of the noodles.
Some ingredients that have been added are beans, eggs and wheat. However, if there are no added ingredients, the noodles are gluten-free. This dish is referred to as rice vermicelli sometimes.
Mei Fun is often dried in bundles of noodles and it is made from water and rice flour. When it is dry it can be stored for a long time.
When the noodle is cooked, the noodles are completely white which is very uncommon for a Chinese noodle. This is what makes it recognizable.
Taste Of Mei Fun
Mei Fun has a very mild taste which is similar to rice. This is because the noodles are made from rice flour.
These noodles are great because they allow the flavor of the sauce and the extra ingredients that you will add to the dish to dominate the meal.
The noodles remain quite crunchy which give the meal an edge to other noodles which tend to be very soft. This texture is created through the cooking process. It is important not to boil these noodles as you would some others.
Mei Fun Dishes
Mei Fun refers to the noodle itself but there are many different options of dishes that are made with these noodles. For instance there is Singapore Mei Fun.
Most dishes that contain Mei Fun dishes usually contain a source of protein – usually in the form of meat – vegetables and a rich sauce.
These noodles are very easy to cook. You simply cover the noodles with hot water and wait until they have softened, this will take a few minutes.
When the water gets to the noodles, they will become hydrated and will turn white and soft. The noodles don’t need to be individually cooked as they are usually part of a stir-fry.
Is Mei Fun Healthy?
The Mei Fun noodles are quite a bland part of the meal and they are neither good nor bad for you.
Whether the Mei Fun dish is good for you will mainly depend on the other aspects of the dish and how they are cooked.
Adding vegetables to the dish or stir frying the noodles with sauces will add sodium and nutrients to the meal.
The other dish that we are comparing to Mei Fun is Lo Mein. The two are often confused. This noodle and the dishes that they are used in are made from wheat and eggs.
These noodles are more yellow than white. Unlike Mei Fun, these noodles are not gluten-free so Mei Fun is more suitable for those who have an intolerance to gluten.
Lo Mein noodles are very thick which makes them really tasty in soups. They are absorbent so they absorb the flavors well and they change color depending on the sauce.
These noodles are cooked before the rest of the ingredients of the dish are added. Commonly, you add meat and vegetables to the noodles which are boiled.
The name Lo Mein says a lot about the dish. The ‘lo’ means tossed and refers to the way in which the noodles are prepared.
These noodles are cooked prior to adding them to the dish by placing them in boiling water. After they have been cooked, the noodles are ‘tossed’ into the wok or the saucepan with the other ingredients.
Chow Mein Vs. Lo Mein
You may have heard of the very popular Chow Mein dish. It is a staple dish that a large portion of the US will order with their Chinese meal or Chinese takeaway.
This dish is made with the same noodles as the Lo Mein, but they are slightly thinner and can either come in fresh or dried form.
The main thing that makes them different from each other is the way that they are cooked.
As explained above, Lo Mein is cooked prior to being added to the dish and then tossed in with the other ingredients to continue cooking.
Chow Mein noodles are ‘fried’ instead of ‘tossed’. This means that the noodles are stir fried in oil and added to the other ingredients at the end which have been cooked separately.
Usually, in a Chow Mein, the noodles are the center of the dish as the vegetables and other ingredients are just added afterwards.
Differences Between Mei Fun And Lo Mein
While both of these dishes may seem similar on the surface because they are made up from vegetables and noodles with meat or eggs added, this is not the case.
There are many subtle differences between the different dishes that may look similar on the surface and there is one very obvious difference! The noodles.
Read on to find out about the main differences between the two.
One of the biggest differences between the Mei Fun and Lo Mein noodles is their appearance. Lo Mein noodles are a lot thicker and are more yellow in color.
They are also absorbent and so will look different depending on the color of the sauce. Mei Fun noodles are white and much thinner than Lo Mein.
While the accompaniments to these dishes are very similar, both commonly being served with a type of protein and some vegetables, the noodles make them different from each other.
The texture of these noodles are completely different from each other and this makes the dishes taste entirely different from each other.
Mei Fun noodles are dried and because of this they are quite crunchy when they are added to the dishes. They also contain quite a lot of starch as they are made from rice flour, causing them to stick together.
This is completely different to Lo Mein which has a much softer texture. Lo Mein also absorbs a lot of the flavors of the sauce that it is cooked in which Mei Fun does not do.
The texture changes the whole meal and is a very big difference, meaning that whatever is added to the dish will taste completely different when paired with the different noodles.
The taste of the two sets of noodles differ from each other because they are made from different ingredients.
However, both of these noodles are quite mild in flavor, making the other flavors from the other ingredients a large part of the dish. Mei Fun noodles are quite sweet compared to Lo Mein noodles.
They are also very mild so they don’t stand out in the dish. Lo Mein noodles are more hefty and filling.
These noodles absorb the flavors of the sauce that is added to them and so they blend into the taste of the dish more than the Mei Fun noodles.
While both of these types of noodles are often accompanied by similar things, you can change the dishes around depending on what ingredients go best with them.
Both noodles are great in stir-fries and soups served alongside protein, vegetables and a sauce. Lo Mein is usually served with a more liquid sauce because it is absorbed into the noodles.
Mei Fun noodles go well served alongside spring rolls, whereas Lo Mein tastes great with some crunchy vegetables and mushrooms.
The ingredients that make up both sets of these noodles are very different from each other. Lo Mein noodles are made from eggs and wheat which gives them the yellow tinge that you will see in them.
These noodles are not gluten-free, while Mei Fun noodles are. Mei Fun noodles are made from water and rice. They are dried and cooked in hot water to soften
It is great that Mei Fun noodles are gluten free as it gives those with an intolerance a delicious dish to have at their local Chinese restaurant!
6. Fresh Vs. Dried
Lo Mein noodles are fresh while Mei Fun noodles are dried and can be stored for a long time. This difference is noticeable when the noodles are cooked as they have a very different texture.
It also means that the noodles are cooked in different ways.
When you are cooking fresh noodles you should bring a pan of water to the boil. Place the noodles in the pan and cook for two to three minutes until they are soft.
Mei Fun noodles are cooked in a completely different way. They just need to be covered in hot water (not boiling) for around 6 minutes to soften them.
After this has been done, you can add them to your dish.
The initial stage of cooking the noodles is not the only part of cooking that they will be doing!
After you have completed this stage, you will add the noodles to your wok or your saucepan of soup and they will continue to cook further.
Frequently Asked Questions
While this article hopes to answer most of your questions about Mei Fun and Lo Mein, it is expected that you may have some more questions!
Scan through the FAQ’s to find out some additional information that you might be itching to know.
Where Can I Buy Mei Fun?
You can purchase Mei Fun from many different stores. Most conventional stores will have some types of Chinese noodles in stock, however, you can’t guarantee that they will always have the vermicelli noodles.
If you can’t find them in these stores, try out a local Chinese or Asian market which will definitely sell all the different types of noodles! If you can’t get to one of these shops, these noodles are available online.
What Is In Singapore Mei Fun?
Singapore Mei Fun is a delicious dish. It is a stir fry that consists of Mei Fun noodles. The other ingredients are usually pork, shrimp, chicken and vegetables, along with some other variations.
In this dish, the flavors come from curry powder which gives the dish a kick – and not to mention a great yellow color!
So, now you know everything there is to know about both Mei Fun and Lo Mein!
Next time you head down to your local Chinese restaurant, I bet you have decided that you will be ordering one of these delicious dishes because they really do sound appealing!
While the two dishes are often confused because they seem similar, there are lots of very different things about them.
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