It seems to be confusing between chow mein and lo mein while ordering in the restaurant. Most people think that both are the same dish because both contain the word mein, which means noodles. Different methods used to make these stir-fry noodles is the only difference.
However, this mashup is as confusing as the ravioli with tortellini that are the types of Italian pasta. Here in this article, we are going to discuss the difference between chow mein and lo mein. So you will never confuse them again and order the dish that you wanted in the first place.
What is chow mein?
Chow means fried. So we can say that these are the types of fried noodles. Here we have shown these two types of noodles.
- Crisp chow mein:- While frying, these noodles pressed flat to make a sort of pancake.
- Steam chow mein:- While tossing, these noodles fried and coated in a sauce after the initial frying.
Firstly, you have to boil the noodles and then fry them in oil to make chow mein. Now you have to add the sauce to the noodles after the initial frying. However, the content of protein and vegetables is minimum.
Therefore, they do not distract from the crispy noodles. Here we are going to show some characteristics of chow mein.
- Noodles are crispy and oily.
- The amount of protein and vegetables are at a minimum.
- The sauce is dark and thicker.
What do you mean by lo mein?
Here the word lo in lo mein means tossed well. So we can say that these are the types of tossed noodles. Firstly, you have to cook all the veggies and protein in a pan and then toss them with the sauce.
Now you have to add the boiled noodles to the pan. It is the way to make lo mein noodles. However, keep in mind that slightly toss the noodles with the vegetables. Here are some characteristics of lo mein noodles.
- The sauce is light.
- Noodles are not oily.
- It includes vegetables and protein.
Difference between chow mein and lo mein
Both chow mein and lo mein made from the same type of Chinese noodles. These noodles are similar to Italian pasta and made from wheat flour and eggs.
You can easily find both lo mein and chow mein if you are living near a good Asian grocer. If you do not spot any of them, then you can use regular spaghetti or linguine noodles as a great substitute.
Now the question that comes to our mind: What makes the chow mein and lo mein different? However, the distinctive cooking method is the main difference between them.
Moreover, you have to boil lo mein until they get soft whereas fry chow mein until crispiness. Below we are going to discuss some more differences between them.
Both chow mein and lo mein noodles are from China. However, in China, wheat-based dishes are more common than rice-based. Moreover, you can also find these dishes in American Chinese cuisine.
2. Preperation and textures
As we all know, both chow mein and lo mein are of wheat flour mixed well with egg. However, chow mein noodles can be round or flat. You have to start cooking with fresh or fried noodles for the preparation of chow mein.
Then you have to parboil the fresh noodles. Now add these parboiled noodles to the stir fry mixture and cook until they get crispy. This method of preparing chow mein noodles results in a variety of textures in the dish.
On the other hand, you can only start cooking with fresh noodles for the preparation of lo mein. Then you have to parboil these fresh noodles. Now add these parboiled noodles to a stir fry dish with a lot of sauce.
Toss the noodles well until they soak up the sauce properly. There is another way of preparing lo mein. You can pour the stir fry over the cooked noodles and stir well. However, lo mein is better known for soaking up the sauce.
Below we have shown a video in which you will have a tour of different kinds of Asian noodles like soba, lo mein and some more.
As we all know, the noodles themselves have the same nutritional value. They have 237 calories, 13.8 g of fats, 25.9 g of carbohydrates and 198 milligrams of sodium.
But when we are talking about chow mein and lo mein, both have different preparation methods that results in differing nutrition values. However, chow mein noodles have higher fat content than lo mein.
On the other hand, lo mein end up with higher sodium content depending on the sauce.
You will find many different kinds of chow mein dishes. Most of the chow mein dishes include beef, chicken or shrimp stir-fried with vegetables. However, stir fry includes crunchy vegetables such as carrots and celery.
Some more typical ingredients are onions, cabbage and mung bean sprouts. And the sauce we add to the chow mein noodles is soy-based. Sometimes you can fry the noodles into a patty and serve the stir fry over this. There are many authentic as well as creatives recipes of chow mein noodles.
Lobster chow mein and crispy chow mein in a cup
On the other hand, lo mein also comes in several varieties of dishes. These lo mein dishes also include a stir fry of meat such as beef, chicken, shrimp with vegetables. You can also add Bok choy and cabbage in lo mein dishes.
Lo mein noodles in a square bowl (left) and chicken lo mein (right)
However, the sauce we add in lo mein noodles is soy-based or oyster sauce. Most of the lo mein dishes include more sauce than chow mein dishes.
5. Regional variations
In other cultures, chow mein transforms into Chinese cuisine. However, Brazillian Chinese cuisine is similar to the American version with crispier noodles and soy sauce.
Thinner noodles get deep-fried and served with a thick sauce in Canadian Chinese cuisine. The south Asian Chinese cuisine served with gravy in India and are likely to vegetarian dishes.
However, the chow mein noodles with water buffalo meat are known as Nepalese Chinese cuisine. On the other, lo mein is not regional because lo mein dishes are not different except in the sauce.
Chow mein vs lo mein: Which is healthy
As we all know, both chow mein and lo mein are of wheat flour with egg. So we can say that both have the same nutrition value. But as chow mein are more oily than lo mein. So chow mein contain more fat than lo mein.
On the other hand, it is all about your taste. However, there is a variety of textures in chow mein. For example, you can mix up crunchy noodles and celery with soft mushrooms, bean sprouts and juicy tomatoes.
Some recipes of both lo mein and chow mein
Here we are going to show you some recipes for both chow mein and lo mein.
1. Healthy baked chicken chow mein recipe
Nutritional guidelines:- This dish contains 729 calories, 24g of fats, 81g of carbohydrates and 46g of protein.
- One pound boneless chicken breast.
- One pound cooked thin egg noodles.
- Half cup chicken stock.
- A tablespoon ginger
- Half cup thinly onions
- Three large dried Chinese mushrooms.
- Two cups Chinese flowering chives.
- Two teaspoons sesame oil
- Three cup bean sprouts
- Black pepper
- One tablespoon soy sauce
- One-fourth tablespoon of salt
- A tablespoon dry sherry wine
- One-fourth teaspoon white pepper
- One tablespoon corn starch
Here are the steps to prepare this healthy chow mein dish.
Step1:- Firstly, you have to combine chicken with soy sauce, salt, dry sherry, white pepper and cornstarch. Now mix them well and set them aside.
Step2:- Steam the noodles in a large amount of boiling water for one minute. Now take them out and drain well.
Step3:- Spread the noodles on a large cookie sheet lined with aluminium foil.
Step4:- Heat the oven to medium-high.
Step5:- Boil the noodles for 5 minutes until they get crispy.
Step6:- Heat the wok to high temperature and add the stock and bring to boil. Then put ginger, onion and mushrooms and cook for one minute.
Step7:- Add chicken and cook for two minutes.
Step8:- Add flowering chives or green onions, sesame oil and stir to mix for one minute.
Step9:- Now remove from the heat and stir in bean sprouts. Lastly, pour the chicken over the noodles and serve hot.
2. Shrimp lo mein with three vegetables
Nutritional guidelines:- It contains 290 calories, 6g of fats, 39g of carbohydrates and 20g of protein.
- Half pound raw shrimp.
- Two teaspoons dry sherry wine.
- One teaspoon cornstarch
- Half pound Chinese egg noodles.
- One and a half teaspoons of sesame oil.
- One red bell pepper.
- Half cup shredded Napa cabbage
- Two or three slices of ginger
- One-fourth cup of chicken broth.
- One tablespoon oyster sauce
- A tablespoon of light soy sauce
- Half teaspoon sugar
- Six tablespoon oil for stir-frying.
Here are the steps for the preparation of this lo mein dish.
Step1:- Wash the shrimp under warm water and dry it with a paper towel. Now cut it in lengthwise.
Step2:- Add cornstarch and rice wine to the shrimp and mix it well using chopsticks. Then marinate the shrimp for fifteen minutes.
Step3:- Now boil the noodles in a large saucepan. Take out the noodles and wash with cold water. Then again drain it and mix well with the sesame oil.
Step4:- Cut the bell peppers into thin slices and remove all the seeds. Wash the bamboo shoots, drain them and cut them in half.
Step5:- Now you have to combine the oyster sauce, chicken broth, soy sauce and sugar in a small bowl and set aside.
Step6:- Heat the wok over medium-high to high temperature and add two tablespoons of oil. Now add ginger when the oil is hot and stir-fry.
Step7:- Add shrimp and stir-fry until they turn pink. Now remove from the wok.
Step8:- Heat two tablespoons of oil and add the shredded cabbage and the bamboo shoots.
Step9:- Again stir-fry for a minute and remove from the wok.
Step10:- Heat two tablespoons in the wok and add the noodles and sauce to it. Keep in mind to reduce the heat that the noodles will absorb the sauce completely. Add the vegetables and shrimp into the pan and serve hot.
So here is the complete information about the difference between chow mein and lo mein. However, both are traditional Chinese dishes. But both chow mein and lo mein noodles have different cooking methods and textures. Lastly, we have also shown the recipes of both chow mein and lo mein noodles.