12 Difference Between Chow Mein And Lo Mein (With Pictures)

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Chow Mein And Low Mein

Both lo mein and Chow mein are noodle-based dishes originating from Northern China. They are generally found all over the world and they are an integral part of the Chinese-American food culture. To many people who patronize Chinese or American-Chinese restaurants, the names Cho mein and lo mein may sounds almost similar to a point of generating confusion of differentiating them from one another.

Well, in Chinese ‘’Mein’’ loosely translates to mean noodles, ‘’Chow’’ translates to ‘’fried’’ whereas ‘’Lo’’ translates to ‘’tossed’’. Therefore, Chow mein in English means fried noodles whereas Lo mein translates to stirred or tossed noodles. Essentially, it’s the way the noodles are prepared that makes them different, as the noodles in both dishes are made from wheat flour and eggs, which is similar to the ingredients of Italian pasta.

Chow mein noodles are fried before the rest of the ingredients and sauce are added to the skillet or work. Lo mein on the other hand, is not fried. It is first boiled then tossed with the rest of the ingredients (meat, fish, veggies, sauce) at the end. The Lo mein noodles are soft and plump, they effortlessly entwine around the chopsticks.

Chow mein noodles are drier, have more fat and a crunchy texture whereas Lo mein noodles are juicy, soft, low on fat and have more sauce. Chow mein noodles can either be rounded or flat and lo mein noodles are usually slightly thicker.

What You Need To Know About Chow Mein

  • Chow Mein is a traditional Chinese dish made with eggs noodles and stir-fried veggies.
  • Chow mein is popular throughout the Chinese Diaspora and appears on the menus of most Chinese restaurants abroad. It is particularly popular in India, Nepal, UK and US.
  • There are two main kinds of chow mein: Steamed chow mein and Crispy chow mein also referred to as Hong Kong-style chow mein. The crisp noodles are flat and the steamed ones are little roundish in shape.
  • The Key ingredients for Chow mein are wheat flour noodles. Other ingredients can be vegetables like cabbage, beans, sprouts, scallions, along with meat or seafood.
  • The noodles in chow mein are the main accent, therefore vegetables and proteins are not as generous in a chow mein dish.
  • Chow mein is fried before the rest of the ingredients (veggies, beans, sprouts, and meat) are added to the noodles on the skillet.
  • The fried crispy noodles are doused in a thick, darker sauce that combines ingredients such as soy sauce, broth, oyster sauce, sesame oil and sugar.
  • Once tossed with the sauce, the noodles exterior begins to soften, which lends the fried noodles its inherent chewy texture.  
  • You can prepare chow main in two ways: Adding stir-fried vegetables and/ meat to the pan-fried noodles or adding the parboiled noodles directly into the veggies and meat and stirring them together.
  • Traditionally, chow mein noodles are served crispy and fried.
  • Fat count is higher in Chow mein because they are fried.

What You Need To Know About Lo Mein

  • Lo main is a Chinese dish of egg noodles tossed with vegetables and meat, fish or seafood along with sauce.
  • Lo main is a popular take-out food in every American Chinese restaurant.
  • Other than meat, wontons, shrimp, pork, chicken, beef or seafood can be used to prepare lo mein.
  • The key ingredients for Lo mein are wheat flour noodles and beef. Other ingredients include: broccoli, scallions, cabbage, mushrooms, bok choy, ginger, garlic, carrots and peas. 
  • Lo mein is not fried. It is first boiled then tossed with the rest of the ingredients (meat, fish, veggies, sauce) at the end. This way, each ingredient stands out when you taste the dish.
  • The Lo mein noodles are added to the pan to soak up sauce towards the end of cooking, which is why lo mein is typically the gloopier and fattier when compared to Chow mein.
  • The Lo mein noodles are soft and plump, they effortlessly entwine around the chopsticks.
  • Lo mein contains more sauce than chow mein does, which is composed of both dark and light soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar.
  • Traditionally lo mein noodles are served boiled with sauce.
  • Lo mein noodles are low on the fat count as they are not fried.

Also Read: Difference Between Sashimi And Nigiri

Difference Between Chow Mein And Lo Mein In Tabular Form

BASIS OF COMPARISON CHO MEIN LO MEIN
Description Chow Mein is a traditional Chinese dish made with eggs noodles and stir-fried veggies.   Lo main is a Chinese dish of egg noodles tossed with vegetables and meat, fish or seafood along with sauce.  
Popularity Chow mein is popular throughout the Chinese Diaspora and appears on the menus of most Chinese restaurants abroad Lo main is a popular take-out food in every American Chinese restaurant.  
Types Steamed chow mein and Crispy chow mein also referred to as Hong Kong-style chow mein. Not categorized into types
Shape  Chow mein noodles can either be rounded or flat. Lo mein noodles are usually slightly thicker.  
Key Ingredient The Key ingredients for Chow mein are wheat flour noodles. The key ingredients for Lo mein are wheat flour noodles and beef.
Preparation Chow mein is fried before the rest of the ingredients (veggies, beans, sprouts, and meat) are added to the noodles on the skillet.   Lo mein is not fried. It is first boiled then tossed with the rest of the ingredients (meat, fish, veggies, sauce) at the end. This way, each ingredient stands out when you taste the dish.  
Other Ingredients Other ingredients can be vegetables like cabbage, beans, sprouts, scallions, along with meat or seafood. Other ingredients include: broccoli, scallions, cabbage, mushrooms, bok choy, ginger, garlic, carrots and peas.   
Sauce Chow mein contains less sauce than lo mein. Lo main contains more sauce than chow mein.
Texture Chow mein noodles have a crunchy texture. Lo mein noodles are soft and plump.
You can prepare chow main in two ways: Adding stir-fried vegetables and/ meat to the pan-fried noodles or adding the parboiled noodles directly into the veggies and meat and stirring them together.   There is only one way in which lo mein can be prepared: Boiling the noodles and then add them to tossed vegetables and meat along with sauce.
Traditionally Traditionally, chow mein noodles are served crispy and fried.   Traditionally lo mein noodles are served boiled with sauce.  
Fat Content Fat count is higher in Chow mein because they are fried.   Lo mein noodles are low on the fat count as they are not fried.  

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