cellophane noodle

Cellophane noodles

Cellophane noodles (also known as Chinese vermicelli, bean threads, bean thread noodles, or glass noodles) are a type of transparent Asian noodle made from starch (such as mung bean starch, potato or canna starch), and water.

They are generally sold in dried form, boiled to reconstitute, then used in soups, stir fried dishes, or spring rolls. They are called "cellophane noodles" or "glass noodles" because of their appearance when dried, resembling cellophane, a clear material or a translucent light gray or brownish-gray color. photo

Cellophane noodles are generally round, and are available in various thicknesses. Wide, flat cellophane noodle sheets called mung bean sheets are also produced in China.

Cellophane noodles should not be confused with rice vermicelli, which are made from rice and are white in color rather than clear.

In China


In Chinese, the most commonly used names are:

  • fěn sī (): with fěn meaning "noodle" and meaning "thread"
  • dōng fěn (): with the literal meaning of "winter noodle"

They are also marketed under the name saifun, the Cantonese pronunciation of the Mandarin xì fěn (; literally "slender noodle"), though the name fan2 si1 (粉絲) is the term most often used in Cantonese.


In China, the primary site of production of cellophane noodles is the town of Zhangxing, in the city of Zhaoyuan (招远市), which is administered by the prefecture-level city of Yantai, in the eastern province of Shandong. However, historically, the noodles were shipped through the port of Longkou (which is also under the administration of Yantai), and thus the noodles are known and marketed as Longkou fensi (simplified: 龙口粉丝; traditional: 龍口粉絲).


In China, cellophane noodles are usually made of mung bean starch and are a popular ingredient used in stir fries, soups, and particularly hot pots. They can also be used as an ingredient in fillings for a variety of Chinese jiaozi (dumplings) and bing (flatbreads), especially in vegetarian versions of these dishes. Thicker cellophane noodles are also commonly used to imitate the appearance and texture of shark's fin in vegetarian soups. Thicker varieties, most popular in China's northeast, are used in stir fries as well as cold salad-like dishes. A popular soup using the ingredient is fried tofu with thin noodles (豆腐线; pinyin: yóudòufu-xiànfěntāng). A popular Sichuan dish called ants climbing a tree (蚂蚁上树; mayishangshu) consists of stewed cellophane noodles with a spicy ground pork meat sauce.

Health concerns

In 2004, testing by Chinese authorities determined that some brands of cellophane noodles produced in Yantai, Shandong were contaminated with lead. It emerged that several unscrupulous companies were making their noodles from cornstarch instead of mung beans in order to save costs, and, to make the cornstarch transparent, were adding lead-based whiteners to their noodles. In December 2006, Beijing authorities again inspected cellophane noodles produced by the Yantai Deshengda Longkou Vermicelli Co. Ltd. in Siduitou village, Zhangxing town, Zhaoyuan city, Yantai, this time determining that sodium formaldehyde sulfoxylate, a toxic and possibly carcinogenic industrial bleach which is an illegal food additive in China, had been used in the production of the noodles. The company, which formerly sold its noodles both in China as well as overseas, was ordered to cease production and distribution.

Outside China

In Indonesian cuisine, they are called soun or suun, and in Malaysia they are known as tanghoon. Sometimes, people confuse them with bihun which are rice vermicelli.

In Japanese cuisine, they are called harusame (春雨), literally "spring rain." Unlike Chinese glass noodles, they are usually made from potato starch. They are commonly used to make salads, or as an ingredient in hot pot dishes. They are also often used to make Japanese adaptations of Chinese and Korean dishes.

In Pakistan, glass noodles are called saewiyan, and are always used in desserts. They are usually boiled with sweetened milk (and cream) with dried nuts and are sometimes coated with chandi varak (edible silver leaf) usually served on religious occasions. They are also eaten with falooda, which could be bought from numerous food stalls throughout Pakistan.

In Korean cuisine, glass noodles are usually made from sweet potato starch and are called dangmyeon (hangul: 당면; hanja: ; literally "Tang noodles"; also spelled dang myun, dangmyun, tang myun, or tangmyun). They are commonly stir-fried in sesame oil with beef and vegetables, and flavoured with soy and sugar, in a popular dish called japchae They are usually thick, and are a brownish-gray color when in their uncooked form. photo

In Vietnamese, cellophane noodles are called bún tàu, bún tào, or miến''.

In Filipino cuisine, the noodles are called sotanghon because of the popular dish of the same name made from them using chicken and wood ears. These noodles are often confused with rice vermicelli, which are called bihon in the Philippines.

In Thai cuisine, glass noodles are called woon sen (วุ้นเส้น). They are commonly mixed with pork and shrimp in a spicy salad called yum woon sen (ยำวุ้นเส้น), or stir-fried as pad woon sen (ผัดวุ้นเส้น).

In Hawaii, where cuisine is heavily influenced by Asian cultures, cellophane noodles are known locally as long rice, supposedly because the process of making the noodles involves extruding the starch through a potato ricer. They are used most often in chicken long rice, a dish of cellophane noodles in chicken broth that is often served at luaus.

See also


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