This Is The Difference Between Sotanghon And Bihon

Here's what you need to know to tell the difference between the two noodles.

IMAGE Bianca Laxamana

Are one of those kitchen newbies who don't know the difference between different kinds of Asian noodles? 

That's okay. A lot of people are learning the different kinds of ingredients that they never knew before! If you are stumped when told to buy either sotanghon or bihon and are faced with confusing labels like "vermicelli", "cellophane", and "rice sticks" in the supermarket, you are not alone. 

There are many kinds of Asian noodles on the market. Can you tell which is which?
Photo by Patrick Martires
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Uncooked, both may look very similar to each other so taking note of what is written on the package is important. So, take a look at the ingredients of the noodles. Bihon will be made from rice flour and water. Sometimes you'll see bihon with cornstarch or made entirely with cornstarch and this will work as bihon, too, although it's not true rice noodles since it's made from a different kind of flour. Sotanghon meanwhile will be made from green mung beans and water.

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The ingredients are really the easiest way to tell to which is which, so in the simplest terms, the big difference between these two noodles is what the noodles are made of:  

Bihon is made from bigas or rice. 

Sotanghon is made from munggo or mung bean starch. 

How else can you tell which is which? 

Upon further inspection, you may notice that sotanghon has a tendency to be the whiter of the two noodles. Sometimes the bihon takes on a slightly yellow hue, probably from the rice kernels itself that weren't completely polished. This hint of color won't and doesn't affect the noodles.   

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Once cooked, sotanghon usually feels slicker since it is more gelatinous and looks translucent while bihon will turn white and be more opaque in color. It's also common for bihon to be made as the thinner noodle compared to sotanghon.  

That might be where the difference ends because these two noodles are almost interchangeable in recipes and are often substituted for one or the other when one isn't available. 

Once you know that there is little difference in the two noodles, you can try any of these fantastic recipes, interchanging the two ingredients as desired according to what noodles you have on hand. 

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Pancit Bihon Recipe 

This classic Filipino party staple doesn't have to be served just for parties. This makes a fantastic merienda meal as well as for a handaan. The thin rice noodles are perfect for not only absorbing the savory soup that it's simmered in, but it's also thin enough to allow the toppings to become the star of the meal. Just like rice, the bihon is really the supporting star of this classic noodle dish.     

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Chicken Sotanghon Recipe with Malunggay  

The classic way of preparing and serving sotanghon is either as a pancit or in a soup. Sotanghon is a favorite for soup since it can handle being in a hot liquid more so than the bihon. Since it's the preferred noodles for Asian soups, this is a classic preparation and is highly nostalgic in flavor. 

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Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!

Got your own version of the classic dishes? Pa-share naman! Get your recipe published on Yummy.ph by submitting your recipe here!


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