kake: The word "菜單" (Chinese for "menu") in various shades of purple. (菜單)
[personal profile] kake

粉 (fěn) is a little more complicated than the other characters I've covered so far — in the context of the Chinese menu, 肉 for meat, 魚 for fish, and 豆 for bean are fairly straightforward. However, 粉 in the name of a dish could refer to anything from a light coating of cornstarch to the flat, wide rice noodle wrappings used in the dim sum dish of cheung fun.

Essentially, 粉 usage on menus breaks down into two broad categories: noodles made from rice or other starches (basically, not wheat) on the one hand, and rice flour/powdered rice/potato starch/cornstarch/etc on the other. It's not always possible to figure out from scratch which category is being referred to — you'll have to use your knowledge of the cuisine and your best judgment of what seems most sensible given the other characters used in the name of the dish.

Here are some types of noodle that use 粉 in their names:

粉絲 fěn sī bean thread noodles
米粉 mǐ fěn rice vermicelli
河粉 hé fěn flat, wide rice noodles (ho fun) (sometimes this is abbreviated to just 河/hé)

and here are some dishes that use 粉 in their names:

叉燒腸粉 chā shāo cháng fěn barbecue pork (char siu) cheung fun
酸菜粉 suān cài fěn pickled greens with rice vermicelli
乾炒牛河粉 gān chǎo niú hé fěn dry-fried beef with ho fun noodles
牛肉 fěn zhēng niú ròu sliced beef mixed with coarsely-ground roasted rice and steamed (here, 粉 refers to the coarsely-ground rice)

Do note that 粉 never refers to plain cooked rice — that would be 飯 (fàn). On a menu, 粉 always means grain that has been processed further in some way, whether by coarse grinding as in 粉蒸牛肉 or by fine grinding and then turning into noodles as with 酸菜粉.

Incidentally, the literal translation of 腸粉/cháng fěn/cheung fun is "intestine noodles", since the white, floppy tubes are considered to resemble intestines. 腸 is a character worth remembering, since many of the more interesting Chinese dishes involve the offaly goodness of well-prepared intestine.

粉: fěn radical 119 (米) Cantodict MandarinTools YellowBridge Zhongwen

Characters mentioned in this post:
Other related posts:
If you have any questions or corrections, please leave a comment (here's how) and let me know (or email me at kake@earth.li). See my introductory post to the Chinese menu project for what these posts are all about.

Date: 2010-05-19 04:41 am (UTC)
afuna: Cat under a blanket. Text: "Cats are just little people with Fur and Fangs" (Default)
From: [personal profile] afuna
I really love this series <3 (This one, especially, helped me reconcile the way the characters look with the way I think they should sound based on their spelling in the menus they are spelled in menus, and the way they sound in my head *G*)


December 2012


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