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Difference Between Lo Mein and Chow Mein

noodles_chineseLo Mein vs Chow Mein

It’s common to believe that the difference between lo mein and chow mein is in the type, or the texture, of the noodles that are used. However, the type of noodles is the same. Each dish is prepared with a type of Chinese egg noodle. Literally translated, the definition of lo mein is ‘tossed noodles’. Chow mein is literally translated as ‘fried noodles’.

Chow mein noodles are fried and placed one side. The remainder of the ingredients hit the wok for their turn, and when these ingredients are just about done, the noodles rejoin them. This gives the chow mein noodle a second time in the wok for frying. Lo mein noodles are parboiled, just once, and are usually not cooked a second time.

The sauces that are used in Chinese food are more abundant in the lo mein dishes. This is because the lo mein noodles offer a rather bland, but distinctive flavor, which would make all the lo mein dishes taste the same. The sauce is absorbed by the parboiled noodles, making it more common to use a heavy sauce with these dishes.

Because the frying of the chow mein noodles offers a more flavorful taste, and because the noodles do not absorb the sauce, chow mein dishes have a more sparse helping of sauce. The sauces of chow mein dishes tend to be thinner, runnier, and even watery, while the sauces of the lo mein dishes are typically thicker, with a helping of corn starch to enhance the process.

Frying the chow mein noodles to a crispy texture is an Americanized recipe. If you were to order chow mein dishes that were created authentically, as they are in China, you would be served a softer fried noodle.

There is a difference in taste between the lo mein and the chow mein dishes. There is no objective way to determine which is the better tasting dish. That’s personal preference. However, chow mein has historically been more popular in the United States.


· Lo mein means tossed noodles.

· Chow mein means fried noodles.

· Chow mein noodles are cooked twice in the wok.

· There is more sauce in a lo mein dish.

· The sauces for lo mein dishes are thicker.

· Chow mein noodles have been altered to suit American tastes.

· Chow mein has been more popular over the years.

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