Various types of noodles are used in Asian cuisines made with different ingredients with different shapes and widths. Noodles are a staple ingredient in Chinese cuisine.
They are used in various dishes like stir-fries, soups, salads, and spring rolls. The two most common noodles used in multiple dishes that pair well with meats and vegetables are chow fun and mei fun.
At first look, they may look similar but have some differences that distinguish one from another even though they are both rice noodles.
The main difference between chow fun and mei fun is in the thickness and appearance of the noodles. Chow fun is flat, wide noodles, while mei fun is thin noodles.
What Is Chow Fun?
Chow fun is rice noodles, also known as hor fun and shahe fen. They are usually one inch wide, but there are also more comprehensive types of chow-fun noodles.
You can find them in dried or fresh form; they both need different cooking processes. Fresh chow fun noodles are ready to use in your dish.
You only need to blanch them for 2 minutes in hot water to soften, drain, rinse with cold water, drain again and add to the dish.
While dried chow fun noodles need to be soaked in hot water for about 8-10 minutes, depending on their thickness, before adding to your dish.
After they are soaked and softened, drain them, rinse with cold water, drain again and use. Chow fun noodles are mainly used in stir-fries and soups. They can be dry-fried with condiments like soy sauce or wet-fried with thickening sauce.
How to Use Chow Fun?
Chow fun goes well with various vegetables and meats; therefore, they are prepared in many different dishes. One of the most known dishes made with chow fun is the classic Cantonese dish, beef chow fun.
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This delicious dish is made with marinated beef, chow-fun noodles, onions, bean sprouts, and soy sauce. You can easily prepare it in no time.
First, sear the marinated sliced beef, add the noodles, onions, soy sauce, and stir-fried. Add the bean sprouts; when they are nice and tender, your beef chow fun is ready to serve.
How to cook it?
Two of the most common ways to cook chow fun are dry and wet frying.
Wet frying chow fun noodles are prepared with a thickening agent like cornstarch, flour, or arrowroot. They are slippery and more flavorful than dry-fried chow-fun noodles.
When dry frying the chow fun noodles, they are cooked in a wok or deep skillet and have a distinctive smoky flavor.
Dry frying chow fun noodles don’t include a thickening agent as wet frying. It only has a condiment like soy sauce.
Dry frying is the more common method for chow fun today
Chow fun noodles are rice noodles. Therefore, they need less time to cook. You can wet fry or dry fry them and prepare delicious dishes.
Dry frying is the more common method for chow fun today and is used in many restaurants with chow fun on their menu.
Key Factor for Great Chow Fun
Many factors can affect the quality of the chow fun. One of them is to prepare the chow fun in a wok because this dish needs to be cooked on high heat quickly but not very hard stirring to get the best results. Because chow fun can easily break into pieces if you go it too hard.
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Another critical factor is the amount of oil you are using. If you use too much fat, you will get a too oily dish, while if you use too little, you will end up with a dry texture that will ruin your receptacle.
It is also important to soak the chow-fun noodles before you use them in your dish. If all these factors are fulfilled, they will contribute to getting an excellent chow fun dish.
Homemade Chow Fun Recipe
For the marinade
- 1 ½ tablespoon light soy sauce
- About 1 pound beef flank steak- sliced
- Around 1 tablespoon of Chinese rice wine
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- one teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 ½ teaspoon dark soy sauce
For the noodles
- two tablespoons vegetable oil
- one tablespoon oyster sauce
- two garlic cloves
- 8 ounces of fresh baby corn
- one tablespoon Chinese black bean sauce
- ½ pound fresh chow fun noodles
- one tablespoon light soy sauce
Start with the marinade for the meat. Mix the light soy sauce, rice wine, dark soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and cornstarch in a bowl. Slice the beef into thick strips and add it to the marinade. Marinate for about 30 minutes.
Prepare the other ingredients. Mince the garlic, rinse, drain and slice the baby corn in half.
You can also use other vegetables to your taste like carrots, cabbage, zucchini, bell peppers, ginger, celery, broccoli, onions, and chili peppers. Rinse them in cold water, drain, and slice them.
Also Check: 8 Best Lo Mein Noodles Substitutes
Prepare the Noodles
Next, you need to prepare the chow-fun noodles. Fresh chow fun noodles are ready to use in your dish. You only need to blanch them for 2 minutes in hot water to soften, drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again.
Cut the noodles into strips wide from 1/2-3/4 inches. When the beef is marinated, heat the wok, add one tablespoon of oil, and sear the meat until it gets a nice brown color. Add the black bean sauce and stir fry for about 30 seconds.
Remove the beef from the wok and add the remaining one tablespoon of oil to the wok. Add the minced garlic, stir until it softens and add the noodles.
Stir fry the noodles and the garlic for 1 minute, and add the baby corn. If you are using other vegetables, you can also add them to the wok.
Stir fry all together for 30 seconds. Return the beef to the wok and add the oyster and light soy sauce. Stir fry all together for about 2 minutes.
Taste and add salt or creamy soy sauce if needed. Garnish with chopped green onions, and your homemade chow fun is ready to serve.
What Is Mei Fun?
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Mei fun is rice noodles made with ground whole rice grains and water. These thin noodles, also known as rice vermicelli, are often confused with cellophane and glass noodles.
But they are not the same because cellophane noodles are made with rice starch or mung bean starch.
Mei fun noodles have a mild, slightly sweet taste and are available as pre-cooked and then dried. They are versatile noodles in many dishes like stir-fries, soups, salads, and spring rolls.
How to Use Mei Fun?
Mei fun noodles originated in China, but they are used in various cuisines like Japanese, Indonesian, Singaporean, Malaysian, Vietnamese, Thailandese, and Cambodian.
They are easy to use because you only need to soak them in hot water for 2-3 minutes to make them soft. After rehydration, they will become white, smooth, and ready to use in your dishes.
One of the most popular dishes made with mei fun noodles is the Singapore mei fun. This dish is made with mei-fun noodles, meats, vegetables, eggs, and curry powder.
There is a dry-fried and wet-fried version of this dish. Singapore mei fun can be prepared with one or more meats like pork, beef, chicken, or seafood.
When mei fun noodles are used in stir-fries, they are first soaked in hot water for 2-3 minutes, drained, added to the wok, and stir-fried with the other ingredients.
Mei fun noodles are also used in different Asian noodle salads. These salads are usually served chilled with great taste and mixed textures.
Soft and delicious mei-fun noodles, crunchy vegetables, herbs, nuts, and sprouts are all mixed in one noodle salad and drizzled with a refreshing dressing.
You can add chicken meat or shrimp to the mei fun noodle salad to make it tastier.
If you want to use mei fun in a salad, just soak them in hot water, drain and mix with the other ingredients. You can also cut the noodles shorter, making them easier to handle.
Homemade Mei Fun Recipe
- 8 oz. Vermicelli rice noodles
- 8 oz. Chinese BBQ pork
- 8 oz. Frozen, peeled, and deveined shrimps
- 2 ½ Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 Eggs
- ½ Red onion chopped
- 4 Cups cabbage sliced
- 2 Medium carrots julienned
- 2 Cloves garlic minced
- 1 Tablespoon Shaoxing winetwo
- two cloves of garlic
- 2 Tablespoons curry powder
- ¼ Teaspoon sugar
- 1 ½ Teaspoons soy sauce
- one teaspoon salt
- 1/8 Teaspoon white pepper
- ½ Teaspoon sesame oil
- 2-3 Tablespoons of chicken stock
- 2 Scallions-chopped
Gather all the ingredients. Soak the rice noodles in hot water for 2-3 minutes and drain them. Add one tablespoon of oil into the heated wok, beat the eggs, and add them to the wok.
When they are cooked, remove them from the wok. Add the remaining oil and garlic; when it is softened, add the shrimp and the pork meat. Cook until the meat gets a nice brown color, and add the Shaoxing wine.
Cook for about 15 seconds, add the vegetables and stir fry all the ingredients for 30 seconds. Add the rice noodles and cook for 1 minute.
Next, add the salt, white pepper, and curry powder and cook for 2 minutes until all the ingredients are well combined.
If you notice that the dish is dry, add the chicken stock. Finally, add the sesame oil, cooked eggs, and soy sauce, and stir-fry for another minute. Add the chopped scallions, and your homemade Mei Fun is ready to serve.
Chow Fun Vs. Mei Fun: Comparison Chart
|Differences||Chow Fun||Mei Fun|
|Appearance||Flat and thick||Thin|
|Flavor||Slightly sweet||Mild, slightly sweet|
|Uses||Stir-fries, soups||Stir-fries, soups, salads, spring rolls|
Chow Fun Vs. Mei Fun: What’s The Difference?
Chow fun and mei fun are rice noodles but not the same. The main difference between chow fun and mei fun noodles is their appearance. Chow fun is flat and thick, while mei fun is thin noodles.
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Another difference is that they are used in different dishes. Chow fun is usually used in stir-fries and soups. Mei fun, except in stir-fries, is also used in soups, noodles, salads, and spring rolls.
Chow fun and mei fun have a similar flavor. They are gluten-free and are used in many Asian dishes.
Is Chow Mei Fun Or Ho Fun?
Chow fun is thick and wide rice noodles, while mei fun is thin rice noodles. Chow fun is also known as ho fun, and they have a chewy texture.
They are usually sold fresh in sheets or strips and can be cut before use to the width that fits best to your dish.
Is Chow Fun The Same As Lo Mein?
Chow fun is not the same as lo mein.
Chow fun is rice noodles, while lo mein are noodles made with wheat flour and eggs. They are stir-fried with soy sauce, vegetables, meats, seafood, and seasonings.
Lo mein noodles absorb more sauce and have a soft, chewy, and fuller taste. They are not gluten-free like chow fun noodles because they are made with wheat flour.
What Is Mei Fun On A Chinese Menu?
Mei fun on a Chinese menu is thin rice noodles. These noodles are precooked and dried and need to be soaked in hot water before being used in stir-fries, soups, salads, and spring rolls.
Chow fun and mei fun are popular noodle dishes made with rice noodles and have a few differences, but they are also similar at some point.
But if you prepare some of these dishes at home, you can use whatever vegetables, sauces, or meat you like. It is only necessary to prepare the noodles properly, so they have a nice texture and enhance the flavor of your dish.