Lo Mein vs Chow Mein: What Is The Difference?

There’s always been a misconception that the difference between Lo Mein noodles and Chow Mein noodles is the noodles used to cook the dish. But the truth is, it is not actually the kind of noodles used but how the noodles are prepared that make them differ from one another. In this post, we are going to talk more about Lo Mein vs Chow Mein and we will also tackle the recipes on how to make each dish.

What is the difference between Lo Mein vs Chow Mein

Before we proceed with the differences between the two dishes, let us first talk about and learn more about each of the dish.

What is Lo Mein?

Lo Mein noodles is a type of Chinese noodle dish. Lo (originates from Cantonese)simply means tossed, mixed or stirred and Mein means noodles, hence, Lo Mein refers to a tossed or mixed noodles.

Lo Mein in Mandarin is called Lāo Miàn, while in China the noodles used to make this dish are relatively thin.


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Lo Mein noodles is composed mainly of vegetables and protein rich foods such as chicken, pork, beef and seafood. Sometimes tofu are added.

Basically, Lo Mein noodles is simply a dry version of noodle soup wherein instead of making it into a soup a savory sauce is being made.

The noodles used in making Lo Mein noodles are fully cooked noodles. The noodle that goes through the boiling and draining process. The cooked noodles that were drained are then added to the vegetables and protein rich food mentioned above. Lo Mein sauce is then added to complete the dish.


What is Chow Mein?

Chow in the dish Chow Mein basically means fried. Therefore, Chow Mein is Chinese dish this made with fried noodles.

There are two types of Chow Mein: Crisp Chow Mein and Steamed Chow Mein.

Steamed Chow Mein, the noodles are flash fried initially, after which the noodles are then stir-fried while vegetables and other ingredients are tossed into. While the noodles with Crisp Chow Mein on the other hand are pressed flat while at the same time frying the noodles and creating a pancake form dish.

With Chow Mein, make sure not to put too much additional ingredients to the dish so as not to divert one’s attention from the noodles itself that are crunchy and delicious.

Also, with Chow Mein, the sauce being used are kept to a minimum to prevent the noodles from being mushy.


Differences between Chow Mein vs Lo Mein

Although both dish have the same second word that is “Mein” which make them similar using noodles, however, both are different in how the noodles are prepared for the dish. The main differences between the two dishes are based on the following:

Cooking Method

Lo Mein Noodles and Chow Mein dishes have the same ingredients used, the cooking methods of these two dishes are different.

When cooking Chow Mein, the noodles are first soaked in a hot water. This softens the noodles in preparation for stir-fry. During the stir frying process, noodles are cooked while the adding the ingredients. On the other hand, in cooking Lo Mein the noodles are completely cooked first before putting and mixing with the additional ingredients. This means that, stir fried noodles in Chow Mein, the noodles are being tossed and mixed in Chow Mein.

Wok Technique

Both Lo Mein noodles and Chow Mein noodles dishes are delicious and at its best when they are prepared in a work however the technique on how each dish is cooked using the wok also differs.

With Chow Mein, a small amount of oil is used and poured in the hot wok to fry the noodles and other ingredients, but with Lo Mein noodles as mentioned the noodles are already cooked then the ingredients are mixed on the noodles.

Sauce

As mentioned, Chow Mein is a dry version noodle dish but with a light sauce, or often times no sauce is added at all. Whereas, in Lo Mein saucy noodle dish added to add flavor to the dish.

Texture

Because of the cooking method used with each of the noodles dish, Chow Mein noodle is crunchier than Lo Mein noodles which is more smooth and chewy. Also, the noodles that are used in making Lo Mein dish are thick and strong enough to support the extra sauce added to the dish.

Lo Mein Dish Recipes

Ingredients
  • Egg Noodles: Make sure to use fresh egg noodles.
  • Vegetables: The vegetables in Lo Mein Noodles includes broccoli, carrots, bell peppers and Zuchini (Sliced). Onion, green onion and garlic can also be added according to one’s preferences.
  • Protein: Protein rich foods such as chicken, beef, turkey, pork, shrimp and sometimes tofu is added.
  • Sauce: The sauce used in Lo Mein noodles is composed mostly of light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, oyster sauce and a little sugar to taste. Red pepper flakes can also be added too.

Cooking instructions

  1. Boil egg noodles then drain egg noodles once completely boiled.
  2. Add the ingredients to make Lo Mein Sauce.
  3. In a hot wok, stir fried the ingredients (vegetables and protein).
  4. Add a small amount of sauce while cooking the vegetables and protein. Make sure not to overcooked the vegetables as it does not only affect the taste but can water down the flavor of the sauce.
  5. Add the egg noodles and Lo Mein sauce to the hot wok.
  6. Toss the egg noodles together with the sauce and the rest of the ingredients. Make sure to use two wooden spoons that could facilitate tossing the noodles easily. To prevent the noodles from overcooking, make sure to stir the mixture constantly.
  7. Once noodles are then completely coated with Lo Mein sauce, remove the dish from the sauce. Serve.

Chow Mein Recipes

Ingredients:

  • Egg Noodles: dried noodles or fresh noodles can be used in making Chow Mein noodles. The type of noodles depends on how you want the texture of your noodles to be like. For example, if you want the noodles to be crispy, choose dried egg noodles.
  • Vegetables: With Chow Mein noodles, the vegetables that are mostly used are bean sprouts, cabbage (Shredded) and carrots (Chopped). As mentioned, it is recommended not to add to many vegetables to focus on the delicious noodles.
  • Protein: Any protein rich foods can be used with Chow Mein noodles can still produce a delicious dish. It can either be a chicken, shrimp or tofu. Most of the time, protein from chickens are mostly used since chicken broth and Chow Mein noodles tends to blend excellently.
  • Sauce: The ingredients used in making sauce for Chow Mein dish are soy sauce, sesame oil (light), oyster sauce, chicken broth, sugar (granulated) and cornstarch.

Instructions:

  1. Boil fresh egg noodles .
  2. While waiting for egg noodles to be fully cooked, mix the ingredients for Chow Mein sauce.
  3. Whatever the protein rich food you are planning to use, cook it in a hot wok. Skillet is fine to use too.
  4. Once the protein rich food is cooked, sauté the vegetables in the hot wok.
  5. If the egg noodles are already cooked, stir fried the noodles in the wok together with the ingredients.
  6. Add and mix Chow Mein sauce to the hot wok. Make sure to mix it thoroughly. A minute or two of mixing will do.
  7. Remove Chow Mein dish from wok and Serve.

Tips in cooking Lo Mein and Chow Mein

  • The process of boiling the egg noodles is done so that it is just the right texture, not fully cooked and not too soft either. In short, the texture will be “al dente”, in Italian which means cooked to the tooth
  • Fresh egg noodles should only be boiled for just a few minutes so as not to overcooked it.
  • Dried Egg noodles should be boiled briefly in boiling water for 5 minutes.
  • Cooking time of the noodles varies with the thickness of the noodles used, make sure to check the cooking instructions on the packaging of each noodle
  • An alternative to noodles for Lo Mein and Chow Mein if not available are the Italian Spaghetti or linguine noodles.

Conclusion

Although both Lo Mein and Chow Mein have their differences, both are still made using Chinese egg noodles. These Chinese egg noodles are made using wheat flour noodles and eggs.

When choosing between Lo Mein and Chow Mein noodles, it is still one’s own preferences in relation to taste and flavor of the dish. Some like to eat crunchy and or dried noodles, while other prefer steaming and sauce-soaked Lo Mein.

We hope that this guide has helped you choose which noodles you like. If not, you can follow at home the recipes mentioned here to check which one will be you favorite.

Let us know what you think.