Best Chinese Food Alternatives
Everyone has their favorite Chinese cuisine, whether it’s the fiery, peppercorn stir fries of Sichuan, 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.
It can be difficult to get your Chinese comfort food when you’re away from home, but there are some worthy and mouthwatering alternatives from around the world. Here are a few dishes to try:
Best enjoyed in winter and always shared with friends, Swiss fondue has more in common with hotpot than you’d think! Although the cheesy taste and texture of fondue is quite different to hotpot, the ritual of sharing a dish and taking turns to dunk pieces of bread or meat before eating them is so reminiscent of traditional Chinese hotpot that the French for hotpot is la fondue Chinoise.
If you’re craving the comfort of dumplings, the closest you can get is pierogi, the national dish of Eastern European Poland and Ukraine. Made with flour or potato, these dumplings are stuffed with 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 their large Polish and Ukrainian communities.
Peking Duck: Tacos
One is a dish reserved for special occasions, the other is the ultimate Mexican street food; both you build by hand, filling up a palm-sized steamed pancake or tortilla. While you might struggle to find duck specifically, you can get tacos everywhere in America, from restaurants to street food trucks. Some taco fillings to try include al pastor (roast pork), carneasada (grilled steak) orpescado (fish).
Fried Rice: Paella
You’ll be happy to know there are lots of rice dishes around the world to fill that rice bowl-sized hole in your life, like this signature Spanish dish from Valencia. Paella rice cooks 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
Rice balls in syrup or sugar ... what's not to love?! If you’re craving a sugar rush, definitely get in on a bowl of syrup-soaked gulab jamun. This Indian dessert is made of milk solids kneaded into a dough, then deep-fried until they’re golden brown. The final step is marinating the balls in a syrup flavored with cardamom, honey, saffron, or rose water.