mei fun vs chow fun

Mei Fun VS Chow Fun: Key Differences You Should Know About

Noodles come in all shapes, sizes, and material specifications, each with a different name and unique sensory experience. Mei fun and chow fun are both popular noodle dishes in Chinese cuisine, but there are some key differences you need to know about to use them.

Here’s a detailed comparison of mei fun vs chow fun to give you a more grounded understanding of the two, so you can prepare all kinds of exciting recipes.

What Is Mei Fun?

Mei Fun

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Mei fun is a type of noodle made from grounded rice and water. It originates from China and is used throughout Asia to make various noodle recipes. In Asia, the term “mei fun” can be used to describe all recipes that incorporate mei fun noodles, whether stir-fried or used as a stuffing in spring rolls.

Mei fun is naturally gluten-free unless a gluten-based ingredient like egg, wheat, or tapioca is added at some point in the processing facility. The noodles are slimmer than spaghetti and semi-translucent with a plastic-like sheen. They can also stay fresh in your pantry for a long time. To use mei fun, you need to soak it in water until it becomes soft, bright white, and a little sticky.

Different Kinds of Mei Fun


 Image source: Pinterest

Mei fun is considered the best noodle for a quick snack because you can prepare it in various ways with simple kitchen ingredients. These are just some of the most popular mei fun preparations using ingredients you can find easily.

  • Singapore Mei Fun

Singapore mei fun is the best-known type. It does not originate from Singapore but for some reason got the name Singapore noodles. It has a bright yellow hue that comes from the curry powder added for flavoring.

  • Sauced

Some mei fun brands sell noodles that have been tossed in a combination of sauces like oyster sauce, soy sauce, or Shaoxing wine. If you’re running out of ingredients at home, purchasing sauced mei fun could be a time saver.

  • Salty Stir-Fries

Bring thin, Mei fun is known for making exceptional stir-fries. They’re already light to begin with, and frying them makes them pleasantly crispy.

Mei Fun Uses

Mei fun is used in soups, salads, sautés, cold noodle dishes, stir-fries, and even desserts in some parts of the world. It’s a versatile cooking ingredient that you can use to prepare virtually all kinds of Asian cuisine. You can find mei fun used in many cuisines including Singaporean, Burmese, Filipino, Chinese, Thai, Malaysian, Indonesian, and Vietnamese food.

What Is Chow Fun?

Chow Fun

 Image source: Pinterest

Like mei fun, chow fun is also made with rice flour but it’s a broader noodle with a softer outer layer. When cooked, chow fun gives a chewy texture and slimy finish that pairs perfectly with the spices in Asian noodle recipes. The only problem with chow fun is that it’s delicate. If not cooked properly, the noodles can break.

Chow fun is a staple of the southern regions of China. It originated from Shahe, a subdistrict in the Guangzhou province, and spread to southeast Asia to parts like Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Different Kinds of Chow Fun


 Image source: Pinterest

Chow fun is typically sold dry in the form of a sheet or thick strips. If you get the sheet version, you will need to soak it in water before you cut it. Sometimes you can also get chow fun that’s ready to be cooked, but it will probably have a shorter expiry date. And remember, hydrated noodles can develop fungus or an infestation if stored for a long time.

Chow Fun Uses

Chow fun is traditionally stir-fried in a wok and prepared with a variety of meats, proteins, seafood, sauces, sprouts, and condiments. You will find a number of recipes for chow fun stir-fries online. It’s most dominant in the cuisine of Southern China and Hong Kong. However, there are many Thai recipes like pad thai that also traditionally make use of chow fun.

The Differences Between Mei Fun and Chow Fun

First, let’s start with the similarities.

Both mei fun and chow fun are rice-based noodles that originate from China. They’re both used dominantly in stir-fry dishes and Asian cuisine. And they both need to be soaked in water before use.

Now for the differences.

Mei fun is used for many more recipes than chow fun and in a lot more countries. There is a South Indian dish known as “Idiyappam” that serves mei fun noodles with a sweet condiment or chutney.

Mei fun is also slimmer than chow fun. Chow fun noodles are flatter and range in thickness from 0.5 to 1 inch. Having a greater surface area, chow fun can take slightly longer to cook.

Compared to chow fun, mei fun is available in a lot more varieties and with flavors included like salt, fish sauce, or even curry powder.

Where To Buy Mei Fun and Chow Fun

You can purchase mei fun and chow fun along with many other kinds of noodles and exotic condiments at an Asian specialty store. Your local supermarket may also have noodles but visiting a specialty store will give you more options to choose from.

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