Best Chinese Food Alternatives

It's difficult to get your Chinese food fix when you’re not in country, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find worthy and mouth-watering similarities from around the world. Here are some dishes to try!

15 October 2020

Everyone has their favorite style of Chinese cuisine, whether it’s the fiery, peppercorn-laced stir fries of Sichuan, the stodgy stews of Beijing, or delicately steamed dim sum from Canton. Thanks to its incredible size and regional diversity, China has plenty of recipes to enjoy, with at least eight major distinct culinary styles (not to mention lesser-known varieties such as Yunnan or Dongbei!). It can be difficult to get your Chinese comfort food fix when you’re not in the country, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find some worthy and mouth watering similarities from around the world. Here are a few dishes to try: 

Hotpot: Fondue


Best enjoyed in winter and always shared with friends, there’s more in common between hotpot and this Swiss counterpart than you’d think! Although the cheesy taste and texture of fondue is quite different to hotpot, the ritual of huddling over a steaming bowl of hot liquid and taking turns to dunk pieces of bread or meat before eating them is reminiscent enough of traditional Chinese hotpot that the French term for hotpot is actually la fondue Chinoise.  

Dumplings: Pierogi


If you’re craving the comfort of a stuffed, doughy snack, the closest you can get is pierogi, the national dish of Eastern European countries like Poland and Ukraine. Made with flour or potato, these dumplings are stuffed with fillings like cheese, meat, sauerkraut or mashed potato, boiled then fried, and finally topped with sour cream or melted butter. Pierogi are also very popular in Canada and America, thanks to large Polish and Ukrainian communities that have existed there for generations. 

Peking Duck: Tacos



One is a dish usually reserved for special occasions, the other is the ultimate Mexican street food; both are best enjoyed by hand, filling up a palm-sized steamed pancake or tortilla before devouring it and going back for more! While you might struggle to find duck specifically, you can find tacos everywhere in America, from restaurants to food trucks on the street. Some taco fillings to try include al pastor (roast pork), carne asada (grilled steak) or pescado (fish).  

Fried Rice: Paella


Have you ever met someone and been asked, “Have you eaten rice yet?” Rice is so central to Asian culture that it’s actually how people greet one another! You’ll be happy to know that there are lots of rice-based dishes from around the world to fill that rice bowl-sized hole in your life, like this signature Spanish dish from the Valencia region. Rice is roasted over an open fire in a wide, shallow frying pan, and infused with olive oil, saffron, chicken, seafood, vegetables and beans to make a satisfying and varied dish that’s evocative of chao fan.  

Tangyuan: Gulab Jamun

gulab jamun

Anyone with a sweet tooth can appreciate the appeal of tangyuan, a Chinese dessert made from glutinous rice and served in syrup or a sugary broth. If you’re craving a sugar rush, definitely get in on a bowl of syrup-soaked gulab jamun. This Indian dessert is made from milk solids which are kneaded into a dough, then deep-fried until they’re golden brown. The final step is marinating the balls in a syrup flavored with ingredients like cardamom, honey, saffron or rose water.


Best Chinese Food Alternatives

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