If you love Chinese food and have tried many dishes at your local Chinese restaurant, you have probably enjoyed a plate of lo mein on occasion. However, do you know the difference between mei fun vs. lo mein? While most people have heard about lo mein, the less-known mei fun dish is also a delicious choice.
Both of these noodles are common ingredients used throughout Asia. To understand the similarities and differences between the two kinds of pasta, we have gathered a description outlining how to cook these noodles and the different dishes they’re used in.
To learn all about mei fun vs. lo mein, read on. Let’s get started!
So, What Is Mei Fun?
Mei fun is a noodle from China that consists of rice and water. It has spread beyond the country’s borders, becoming a popular dish in several Asian countries. In China, it is often considered to be a working-class dish.
While the food should always include water and rice, some variations have spices, flavors, and even colorings. Sometimes, mei fun may have ingredients like wheat, beans, and eggs. Its most basic version makes it ideal for gluten-free diets.
If you’re thinking of mei fun, you can expect to see it in spring rolls along with Asian soups and stir-fries. Mei fun is also known as rice noodles or vermicelli.
Usually, you will see mei fun in Asian grocery stores in bundles of dried noodles. Often, people seek the gluten-free version of mei fun.
What Mei Fun Looks Like
This noodle looks nearly transparent and has a white center. These noodles are generally white and are well-suited to being stored for long periods in a dry place within your kitchen.
When you cook the noodle, its transparency will disappear, making it look completely white. Indeed, you can expect the noodles to look similar to white rice in color while appearing long and crunchy. Its color generally makes it appear different from other types of pasta.
How You Can Cook Mei Fun
Cooking mei fun is a straightforward and quick process. All you need to do is boil a pot of water, throw in mei fun noodles, and then cover the pot. Once it starts cooking, mei fun takes only a few minutes to be done.
You can cook the mei fun with parboiling. Alternatively, you could even throw them in hot water for five or six minutes to cook. The process involves rehydrating the noodles, which makes them much looser and whiter in color.
At the same time, some dishes that feature mei fun do not require you to parboil the noodles. Instead, you can leave them as-is and enjoy the crunchy texture. Crispy and crunchy mei fun is a perfect addition to certain stir-fries, soups, and spring rolls.
The Various Mei Fun Dishes
Mei fun dishes include delightful plates like Singapore mei fun or Chow mei fun. Depending on which Asian country it comes from, mei fun will have a different sauce with light and appetizing tastes.
You will find that typical mei fun dishes are varied in terms of the protein they have. For instance, you could serve it with shrimp, pork, chicken, or eggs. As with many Asian dishes, you can include a wide range of vegetables to suit your needs. These can include carrot slices, cabbage, bean sprouts, or onions. Usually, cooks add a thick sauce to bring more flavor out of the mei fun dishes.
Exactly What Is Lo Mein?
Lo mein is slightly more yellow than mei fun and needs to be cooked differently. You will learn more about how to cook lo mein below and the ingredients the noodle is made from.
When defining lo mein, it can be safely described as stirred or tossed noodles. Indeed, lo mein is in its element when it is stirred into a bowl filled with meat or vegetarian-based protein and vegetables. Keep reading to learn the exact variations between the two!
The Standard Look of Lo Mein
Lo mein consists of wheat and eggs, which give it a more yellow appearance. If you follow a gluten-free diet, you will want to avoid lo mein and choose mei fun instead, thanks to the latter’s most basic version relying only on rice and water.
Lo mein is much thicker and chunkier than the thinner and more transparent mei fun. Nonetheless, you can expect lo mein to absorb all types of sauces and spices, as it has great absorbency.
You can expect lo mein to come with all types of meats, vegetables, and even soups. Various sauces also give lo mein a darker yellow or even brownish color.
How to Cook Lo Mein Dishes
For lo mein dishes, you will need to cook the lo mein noodles in completely boiling water for around three or four minutes. That amount of time is enough for the noodles to get soft. You can also cook the vegetables in the same boiling water.
When making the dish at home, be sure to avoid overcooking the lo mein. Don’t throw the noodles in until the water is already boiling. Then set a timer for no more than four minutes. Use a colander to remove the noodles from the boiling pot of water.
Popular Lo Mein Dishes
You can find numerous popular lo mein dishes being served at Chinese restaurants. They are usually offered with shrimp, chicken, beef, tofu, or egg. You can also throw different types of veggies into your lo mein dish. Sometimes, lo mein is served with wontons.
You can’t choose lo mein as a gluten-free dish, but you will find plenty of options at your nearby Chinese eatery. Enjoy a dish of beef lo mein, shrimp lo mein, chicken lo mein, and veggie lo mein. You won’t regret it!
How is Lo Mein Different From Mei Fun?
You can find a variety of subtle and more extreme differences between lo mein and mei fun. Besides the fact that both are noodles and often served with meats and vegetables, one of the biggest differences occurs in China.
In various regions throughout the country, mei fun remains a noodle. Lo mein, meanwhile, is a more fun and exciting dish filled with other ingredients. Further, lo mein consists of wheat and eggs, while rice and water make up mei fun.
What are some other differences between the two types of noodles? Read on to find out!
What Ingredients Do the Two Noodles Have
Rice vermicelli or mei fun consists of rice and water. However, plenty of mei fun dishes come with extra ingredients. Lo mein noodles are made out of wheat or flour and eggs. Just like mei fun, lo mein dishes have all sorts of added foods like meats and veggies.
You will need to check the exact ingredients of any mei fun dish if you need gluten-free options. The information might be easier to find in a grocery store when reading food labels, but you can still ask a waiter for the ingredients in a Chinese restaurant.
How Long It Takes to Cook the Noodles
Dried-out mei fun noodles require you to parboil the food for at least five to six minutes. If that isn’t for you, you can always heat the dry mei fun.
On average, lo mein noodles take only three minutes in hot, boiling water to cook fully. The simple process will give the lo mein the right consistency and softness. You can add vegetables to both dishes, but you will need to boil them in hot water.
You can then throw either mei fun or lo mein noodles into a wok filled with meats and veggies to make them a bit crunchier. Avoid over boiling the noodles, so they can remain firm upon frying in a wok.
The Different Appearances and Textures of the Two Foods
Mei fun is a dry noodle and, if you avoid cooking it, can be a crunchy part of your spring rolls. In fact, it still has a bit of a crunchy taste even after parboiling in hot water.
Lo mein, however, is a thicker noodle and comes with a much softer texture. The starchiness in rice-based noodles, such as mei fun, can give a stickier quality. As such, mei fun is prone to getting stuck together in a bundle. Fortunately, with a splash of chili oil or sesame oil, you can avoid that from happening altogether.
The Variety of Dishes for Each Noodle Type
Usually, mei fun vs. lo mein gets served in different dishes. One makes a better addition to certain dishes than the other. For instance, mei fun is perfect in spring rolls due to its crunchy and crispy texture. Also, mei fun pairs well with a bowl of vegetables.
On the other hand, lo mein is better served on a plate with meats, soups, broths, and dishes with tomatoes, mushrooms, and beans. The two different kinds of pasta make for a wonderful cuisine, whether you enjoy a crunchy taste or a soft bowl of noodles.
The Similarities Between Mei Fun and Lo Mein
The similarities are few between mei fun and lo mein. However, both types of noodles require hot water to cook. These noodle dishes also come from China and have become popular in several countries across Asia. Mei fun and lo mein both tend to be used in stir-fries and meat dishes. Furthermore, the two types of noodles include similar sauces like chili and soy sauce.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, both are absolutely delicious and make a great dish when craving Chinese food.
Comparison Between Mei Fun vs. Lo Mein
Think of lo mein as egg noodles and mei fun dishes as rice noodles. Due to its gluten-free nature, mei fun is the healthier and more accessible option. However, the white rice ingredient in mei fun noodles is less healthy than brown rice since it lacks the latter’s vitamin B properties.
Lo mein has a fuller taste and flavor, while it pairs well with meat. In contrast, mei fun has a milder and sweeter taste and is best when added to vegetable dishes. Mei fun is a more delicate and thinner noodle, while lo mein is thick and sturdy.
Now that you know the differences and similarities between mei fun and lo mein, you can pick your favorite option. You can try both lo mein and mei fun noodles if you like. Order some spring rolls and a plate of shrimp lo mein from your nearby eatery to enjoy both types.
Do you prefer lo mein or mei fun? Let us know in the comments below! Your next step is to try these two types out. Whether you cook your preferred dish right at home or go out to a local Chinese restaurant for a tasty meal, you’re going to be in for a treat.