As food lovers and Asian cuisine enthusiasts, we can’t help but be enticed by the vast array of dishes that this culinary world has to offer. Today, we delve into the delightful realm of Chinese cuisine, specifically focusing on two classic side dishes: Chow Fun and Mei Fun. Our purpose? To explore, compare, and celebrate these two wonderful creations.
The key differences between Mei Fun and Chow Fun lies in the type of noodles used and the way they are prepared. Chow Fun uses wide, flat noodles and is typically a heavier, more savory dish, while Mei Fun uses thin, vermicelli-style noodles and can be used in a variety of dishes, from stir-fries to salads and soups.
What is Chow Fun?
Chow Fun, also known as Ho Fun, is a staple dish in Southern China, particularly in Guangdong province. This dish is steeped in history, tracing its roots back to the Qing Dynasty. At its core, Chow Fun is a stir-fried noodle dish featuring broad and flat rice noodles as its main ingredient. These noodles are usually stir-fried with a protein (beef is a popular choice), bean sprouts, scallions, and dark soy sauce.
Depending on the region or personal preference, variations of Chow Fun exist. Some may include different vegetables or proteins, while others may prefer it ‘dry-fried’ (without sauce) or ‘wet’ (with sauce).
|Chow Fun Noodles
|Beef, Chicken, Shrimp, Tofu
|Bean Sprouts, Green Onions, Bok Choy, Bell Peppers, Mushrooms
|Soy Sauce, Oyster Sauce, Dark Soy Sauce, Sugar
|Garlic, Ginger, Onions
Different Styles Of Chow Fun
Chow Fun, or wide rice noodles, is a popular dish in Cantonese cuisine. Here are some of the different ways Chow Fun can be prepared:
1. Beef Chow Fun
This is perhaps the most well-known version of Chow Fun. It’s a stir-fry dish that includes marinated beef, bean sprouts, and green onions. The dish is known for its rich and savory flavor.
2. Chicken Chow Fun
This variation substitutes beef with chicken. The chicken is often marinated in a mix of soy sauce, rice wine, and cornstarch before being stir-fried with the noodles and vegetables.
3. Seafood Chow Fun
Seafood Chow Fun includes a mix of seafood like shrimp, scallops, and squid. The seafood is stir-fried with the noodles and a variety of vegetables.
4. Vegetable Chow Fun
For a vegetarian option, this version of Chow Fun is loaded with a variety of stir-fried vegetables. Common choices include bok choy, bell peppers, mushrooms, and bean sprouts.
How to Make Chow Fun
- First, the noodles need to be separated as they tend to stick together. This can be done by soaking them in warm water.
- Once the noodles are separated, meat and vegetables are stir-fried in a wok.
- The noodles are then added to the wok and stir-fried with the other ingredients. Soy sauce, oyster sauce, and other seasonings are added for flavor.
Check out some of our other Chinese dishes you can make at home.
What is Mei Fun?
Mei Fun, also known as Rice Vermicelli or Singapore Noodles, unlike Chow Fun, features thin rice vermicelli noodles. Originating from Fujian province in China, Mei Fun is a versatile dish that has gained popularity across Southeast Asia and beyond.
The ingredients for Mei Fun typically include thin rice noodles stir-fried with a variety of vegetables and proteins (like shrimp or chicken) and seasoned with curry powder for that distinctive taste. Just like Chow Fun, Mei Fun also has regional variations; some versions include different sauces or additional ingredients.
|Mei Fun Noodles (Rice Vermicelli)
|Chicken, Shrimp, Pork, Tofu
|Bell Peppers, Carrots, Bean Sprouts, Green Onions
|Soy Sauce, Oyster Sauce, Fish Sauce, Sugar
|Garlic, Ginger, Onions
|Peanut Oil, Canola Oil
Different Styles Of Mei Fun
Mei Fun, also known as rice vermicelli, is an extremely versatile type of noodle used in a variety of dishes. Below are some popular styles of Mei Fun:
1. Singapore Mei Fun
This is a popular dish in American-Chinese cuisine, despite it not being from Singapore. It is a stir-fried dish that typically includes curry powder, giving it a distinctive flavor and yellow color. The dish often includes a mix of shrimp, chicken, and vegetables.
2. Fried Mei Fun
Just as the name suggests, this dish involves stir-frying the noodles with a variety of ingredients. This can include meats like chicken or pork, along with a variety of vegetables. The result is a delicious, savory dish.
3. Soup Mei Fun
In this style, the Mei Fun noodles are added to soup. This can be a clear, light broth with vegetables, or a heavier soup with meat and spices.
4. Cold Mei Fun Salad
A refreshing dish, especially popular in the summer months. The noodles are cooked, then chilled and mixed with a variety of fresh, crunchy vegetables and a tangy dressing.
5. Seafood Mei Fun
A luxurious version of the dish, Seafood Mei Fun includes a mix of different seafood, such as shrimp, squid, and scallops. The seafood is stir-fried with the Mei Fun noodles and a mix of vegetables.
How to Make Mei Fun
- Similar to Chow Fun, Mei Fun noodles need to be soaked in hot water until they become soft.
- After the noodles have softened, they are drained and set aside.
- Meat, vegetables, and seasonings are stir-fried in a wok.
- The noodles are then added and stir-fried with the other ingredients.
See Also: Panda Express Chow Mein Recipe
Differences between Chow Fun and Mei Fun
|Chinese cuisine, popular in Cantonese cuisine
|Chinese cuisine, originating from southern China
|Wide, flat rice noodles
|Thin, round rice noodles
|Soft and chewy
|Soft and tender
|Stir-fried or pan-fried
|Stir-fried or boiled
|Often includes vegetables, meat, and seafood
|Typically includes vegetables and choice of meat
|Typically served with a savory soy-based sauce
|Can be served with various sauces, often light
|Absorbs flavors of sauces and ingredients
|Less absorbent, maintains its own delicate taste
|Commonly added with bean sprouts and green onions
|Often paired with eggs and a variety of vegetables
|Various regional versions with unique ingredients
|Different regional styles based on local tastes
|A popular street food and restaurant dish
|Widely enjoyed in Chinese-American cuisine
|Found in Chinese restaurants and some Asian stores
|Available in Chinese restaurants and grocery stores
|Often served as a main dish or noodle stir-fry
|Typically served as a noodle dish or side dish
|Requires longer cooking time due to thicker noodles
|Cooks relatively quickly due to thin noodles
|Beef Chow Fun, Shrimp Chow Fun, Vegetable Chow Fun
|Pork Mei Fun, Chicken Mei Fun, Singapore Mei Fun
|May require more skill and practice to make
|Can be easier to prepare
While both dishes feature rice noodles and a stir-fry method of preparation, they have significant differences. Chow Fun uses wide flat noodles compared to the thin vermicelli in Mei Fun. The flavor profiles also differ; Chow Fun’s taste is primarily determined by the soy sauce and seared noodles, giving it a savory and slightly smoky flavor. Conversely, Mei Fun gets its unique flavor from curry powder, which imparts a spicy and aromatic taste.
Nutritionally speaking, both dishes provide carbohydrates from the noodles and protein from the meat used. However, Chow Fun’s wider noodles often mean larger portions and more calories compared to the lighter Mei Fun.
Health Benefits of Chow Fun and Mei Fun
Apart from their delectable taste profiles, both Chow Fun and Mei Fun have health benefits to offer. Chow Fun’s primary ingredient – rice noodles – are gluten-free and low in fat. When paired with lean proteins like beef or tofu and an assortment of vegetables, it becomes a balanced meal.
Similarly, the thin rice noodles in Mei Fun are low in fat and can be paired with a variety of vegetables for added vitamins and fiber. The curry powder not only adds flavor but also contains powerful antioxidants.
How to Choose between Chow Fun and Mei Fun
Choosing between these two dishes boils down to personal preferences, dietary restrictions, and health considerations. If you prefer heavier meals with a savory taste, you might lean towards Chow Fun. On the other hand, if you enjoy lighter meals with a hint of spice, then Mei Fun could be your choice.
Our exploration of Chow Fun and Mei Fun reveals two dishes that, while similar at first glance due to their common use of rice noodles and the stir-frying method, offer very different culinary experiences when it comes to taste profile, texture, and even nutritional content.
We encourage you to try both dishes – either at your favorite Chinese restaurant or at home – and decide for yourself which one captures your palate!
Now it’s over to you! We’d love to hear about your experiences with Chow Fun and Mei Fun. Which one do you prefer? Why? Share your thoughts in the comments section below! Your insights will surely help other readers on their own culinary journey!
Chow Fun and Mei Fun Recipes
See Also: Naan Vs Pita
Which Is Healthier, Mei Fun or Chow Fun?
Both dishes can be healthy depending on the ingredients used. However, since Mei Fun noodles are thinner, they tend to absorb less oil during cooking, which could make dishes using Mei Fun slightly healthier.
Is Chow Fun Spicy?
Traditional Chow Fun is not spicy. However, like most dishes, it can be made spicy by adding chili peppers or other spicy ingredients.
What’s The Difference Between Mei Fun And Rice Noodles?
Mei Fun is a type of rice noodle. The term rice noodles is a broad category that includes various types of noodles made from rice flour, including both Mei Fun (thin rice noodles) and Chow Fun (wide rice noodles).
Are Lo Mein Noodles Or Rice Noodles Healthier?
This depends on the ingredients and cooking method. Lo Mein noodles are made from wheat flour and eggs, while rice noodles are made from rice flour. If you are gluten intolerant, rice noodles would be a healthier option.