Cooking In China: What Should An Expat Do?



Eating out or ordering takeaway for a long time has not only spent a large part of your living budget, but has also harmed your health. You finally realize that it's time to start cooking yourself! So, what should you do to cook in China?


  • You don’t need to be good at cooking

No one is born a good cook for cooking requires practice. Try to start with the simplest dishes, such as salads and pasta. Your goal is to feed yourself, not to open a restaurant!

  • Choose a cookbook

Try to choose a cookbook introducing simple recipe with lots of pictures for every step. And you’d better learn some cooking vocabulary and expressions in Chinese. If you cannot read Chinese, ask your Chinese friends for help or use a dictionary/translation app.

  • Identify Chinese ingredients

The most common ingredients are:

Salt (“yan”盐 in Chinese), sugar (“tang”糖 in Chinese), garlic (“suan”蒜 in Chinese), tofu (“dou fu”豆腐 in Chinese), chicken stock (“ji jing”鸡精 in Chinese), cooking wine (“liao jiu”料酒 in Chinese), soy sauce (“jiang you”酱油 in Chinese)




  • Identify cooking verbs

Slice (“qie”切 in Chinese), stir fry (“fan chao”翻炒 in Chinese), clean (“xi”洗 in Chinese), solidity (“ning gu”凝固 in Chinese), peel (“qu pi”去皮 in Chinese)

  • Buysome cooking tools

Kitchen knife and chopping board, Rice cooker (for rice), Pan (fried), Pressure cooker (for soup), Steamer

  • Places to buy cooking ingredients

You can almost buy everything you need in the local market with a nice price, like meat, sea food, vegetables, fruits and nuts. And you are able to buy imported food and spices in the supermarket. (more expensive)


(Tip: The cost of making Chinese dishes is lower than Western dishes.)


Mastering the skill of cooking will give you a sense of accomplishment, even if you might mess up the kitchen at first. When you bring your lunch box to the company ("Bento" or “bian dang” in Chinese), you know more about life. Cooking is also an interesting adventure when working abroad.


View More