Cellophane noodles

Cellophane noodles, or fensi (simplified Chinese: 粉丝; traditional Chinese: 粉絲; pinyin: fěnsī; lit. 'flour thread'), sometimes called glass noodles, are a type of transparent noodle made from starch (such as mung bean starch, potato starch, sweet potato starch, tapioca, or canna starch) and water. A stabilizer such as chitosan (or alum, illegal in some jurisdictions) may also be used.[2]

Cellophane noodles
Cooked cellophane noodles
Alternative namesGlass noodles
Place of originChina[1]
Region or stateEast Asia, Southeast Asia
Associated cuisineChina, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Samoa, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and Taiwan
Main ingredientsStarch (from mung beans, yams, potatoes, cassava, canna, or batata), water
Regional name
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese粉絲/粉條
Simplified Chinese粉丝/粉条
Literal meaningflour thread
Hanyu Pinyinfěnsī
Yale Romanizationfán sī
Jyutpingfan2 si1
Chinese name (Taiwan)
Literal meaningwinter flour
Hanyu Pinyindōngfěn
Hokkien POJtang-hún
Burmese name
Vietnamese name
Vietnamese alphabetmiến / bún tàu
Hán-Nôm麪 / 𡅊艚
Literal meaningnoodle / Chinese vermicelli
Thai name
Thaiวุ้นเส้น / เส้นแกงร้อน / ตังหน
RTGSwun sen / sen kaeng ron / tung hon
Korean name
Literal meaningTang noodle
Revised Romanizationdangmyeon
North Korean name
Literal meaningflour soup
Revised Romanizationbuntang
Japanese name
Revised Hepburnharusame
Malay name
Indonesian name
Filipino name

They are generally sold in dried form, soaked to reconstitute, then used in soups, stir-fried dishes, or spring rolls. They are called "cellophane noodles" or "glass noodles" because of their cellophane- or glass-like transparency when cooked. Cellophane noodles should not be confused with rice vermicelli, which are made from rice and are white in color rather than clear (after cooking in water).


Cellophane noodles are made from a variety of starches. In China, cellophane noodles are usually made of mung bean starch or sweet potato starch. Chinese varieties made from mung bean starch are called Chinese vermicelli, bean threads, or bean thread noodles. Chinese varieties made from sweet potato starch are called Fentiao or Hongshufen. Thicker Korean varieties made with sweet potato starch are called sweet potato noodles or dangmyeon.

Cellophane noodles are available in various thicknesses. Wide, flat cellophane noodle sheets called mung bean sheets are also produced in China. In Korea, napjak-dangmyeon (literally "flat dangmyeon") refers to flat sweet potato noodles.


In China, the primary site of production of cellophane noodles is the town of Zhangxing, in Zhaoyuan, Shandong province. However, historically the noodles were shipped through the port of Longkou, and thus the noodles are known and marketed as Longkou fensi (simplified Chinese: 龙口粉丝; traditional Chinese: 龍口粉絲).[3]



Ants climbing a tree (螞蟻上樹)

In Chinese, the most commonly used names are fěnsī (Chinese: 粉絲, literally "noodle thread") and fěntiáo or hóngshǔfěn (Chinese: or Chinese: , literally "noodle strip" or "sweet potato noodles"). They are also marketed under the name saifun, the Cantonese pronunciation of the Mandarin xìfěn (Chinese: ; literally "slender noodle"), though the name fánsī (粉絲) is the term most often used in Cantonese.

In China, cellophane noodles 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 shanghai cuisine using the ingredient is fried tofu with thin noodles (Chinese: ; Pinyin: yóu dòu fu-xiàn fěn tāng). A popular Sichuan dish called ants climbing a tree consists of stewed cellophane noodles with a spicy ground pork meat sauce.

In Tibetan cuisine of Tibet Autonomous Region, glass noodles are called phing or fing and are used in soup, pork curry or with mushrooms.


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. Shirataki noodles are translucent, traditional Japanese noodles made from the konjac yam and sometimes tofu.


Japchae from Korea

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 (hangul: 잡채). They are usually thick, and are a brownish-gray color when in their uncooked form.


In India, glass noodles are called falooda (see falooda, the dessert dish), and are served on top of kulfi (a traditional ice cream). They are usually made from arrowroot starch using a traditional technique. The noodles are flavorless so they provide a nice contrast with the sweet kulfi. Kulfi and falooda can be bought from numerous food stalls throughout northern and southern parts of India.


In Indonesian cuisine, they are called soun or suun, probably from simplified Chinese: 线粉; traditional Chinese: 線粉; pinyin: xiànfěn; lit. 'thread flour' (POJ: suànn-hún). Its usually eaten with bakso, tekwan, and soto. In Klaten, soun made from aren starch.[4]


In Malaysia they are known as tanghoon (). They are sometimes confused with bihun (米粉) which are rice vermicelli. Sometimes also known as suhun or suhoon.

Myanmar (Burma)

In Myanmar, cellophane noodles are called kyazan (ကြာဆံ; lit.'lotus thread'), more specifically called pe kyazan (ပဲကြာဆံ, lit.'bean lotus thread'), which is typically made with mung bean flour. The other form of kyazan, called hsan kyazan (ဆန်ကြာဆံ), refers to rice vermicelli.

Kyazan is the primary starch used in a Burmese consomme called kya zan hinga, and is also used in Burmese salads.


Pancit Sotanghon (Lin-Mers, Baliuag, Bulacan, Philippines)

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


Yam wun sen kung: A Thai salad made with cellophane noodles and prawns

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


In Vietnamese cuisine, there are two varieties of cellophane noodles. The first, called bún tàu or bún tào, are made from mung bean starch, and were introduced by Chinese immigrants. The second, called miến or miến dong, are made from canna (Vietnamese: dong riềng), and were developed in Vietnam. These cellophane noodles are a main ingredient in the dishes: miến gà, miến lươn, miến măng vịt, and miến cua. These cellophane noodles are sometimes confused with rice vermicelli (Vietnamese: bún) and arrowroot starch noodles (Vietnamese: arrowroot: củ dong, arrowroot starch: bột dong/bột hoàng tinh/bột mì tinh).

French Polynesia

In French Polynesia, cellophane noodles are known as vermicelle de soja and was introduced to the islands by Hakka agricultural workers during the 19th-century. They are most often used in maʻa tinito, a dish made with cellophane noodles mixed together with pork, beans and cooked vegetables.


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.[5] They are used most often in chicken long rice, a dish of cellophane noodles in chicken broth that is often served at luaus.[6]


Glass noodles were introduced to Samoa by Cantonese agricultural workers in the early 1900s where they became known as "lialia", a Samoan word meaning "to twirl", after the method of twirling the noodles around chopsticks when eating. A popular dish called sapasui (transliteration of the Cantonese chop suey) is common fare at social gatherings. Sapasui, a soupy dish of boiled glass noodles mixed with braised pork, beef, or chicken and chopped vegetables, is akin to Hawaiian "long rice".

Health concerns

In 2004, a number of companies producing Longkou cellophane noodles produced in Yantai, Shandong were discovered to be adulterated, with unscrupulous companies making noodles from cornstarch instead of green beans in order to reduce costs; the companies, to make the cornstarch transparent, were adding sodium formaldehyde sulfoxylate and lead-based whiteners to their noodles.[7]

In December 2010, Czech food inspection authorities (SZPI) again inspected Chinese cellophane noodles, this time determining that 142 mg/kg (0.00227 oz/lb) of aluminium had been used in the production of the noodles.[8] Above 10 mg/kg (0.00016 oz/lb) is an illegal amount for noodles in Czech and EU markets (see Annex I to Regulation (EC) No 669/2009 and its amendments (EU) No 187/2011, 618/2013 annex I).

See also


  1. Hulin, Belinda (November 10, 2009). Knack Chinese Cooking. Globe Pequot Press. p. 150. ISBN 9780762758463.
  2. Paul, Adams. "Recipe Quest: Shear-Thickening Starch Noodles – Cooking Issues". Retrieved 17 September 2021.
  3. "China Vermicelli Manufacturer - Yantai Yinsida Longkou Vermicelli Co., Ltd". made-in-china.com. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27.
  4. Waseso, Ratih (6 July 2019). "Melihat penghasil mi sohun legendaris di Klaten". kontan.co.id (in Indonesian). Retrieved 25 August 2022.
  5. Ohnuma, Keiko (Apr 25, 2007). "The Choice is Clear". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Archived from the original on June 14, 2008.
  6. "Chicken Long Rice". 'Ono Kine Grindz. TypePad. October 27, 2005. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007.
  7. Yan, Yunxiang (2015). "From Food Poisoning to Poisonous Food: The Spectrum of Food-Safety Problems in Contemporary China". In Kim, Kwang Ok (ed.). Re-orienting Cuisine: East Asian Foodways in the Twenty-First Century. New York: Berghahn Books. p. 272. ISBN 9781782385639.
  8. "Inspekce zakázala nudle původem z Číny". Státní zemědělská a potravinářská inspekce (in Czech). 2010-12-16. Archived from the original on 2011-07-18. Retrieved 2010-12-16.
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