Dec 31, 2022

Magao Clam and Chicken Soup 馬告蛤蜊雞湯

Magao pepper, or mountain pepper is one of the traditional spices often used by Taiwan's indigenous tribes. Just a small amount of magao pepper, its minty, peppery, some even describe it as floral aroma can work wonders to the dish.   

However, even in Taiwan, magao pepper is not widely available in all the grocery stores. I actually got mine during a visit up on the mountains from a local tribe spice stand. Worry not, you can substitute with green Sichuan peppercorn. The flavors are quite different but the idea of adding a refreshing and aromatic touch is the same.

Magao clam and chicken soup 馬告蛤蜊雞湯 - 

Magao clam and chicken soup


  • 600 grams chicken (with bones and skin-on)
  • 300 grams clam
  • 3 slices ginger
  • 1 teaspoon magao pepper
  • Some salt
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice cooking wine 米酒
  • 7 to 8 cups hot water


I used Silkie chicken, thus the darker meat and bone color. This breed of chicken works really well as the base ingredient for soup, per my opinion it'll release more flavor and umami. However, you can use the regular chicken, but do choose leaner free range variety if possible.

Cut the chicken to large pieces. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add in the chicken. It'll only take less than one minute. The point is to draw out some dirty bits. Drain and set aside for later use.

Pre-boiling the Silkie chicken

Prep the clams early if needed, like soak them first in order to draw out the sands. Gently wash the shells. 

Scrape the skin off the ginger and slice to get two pieces, about 1mm thickness.

Bring out a pot, I used clay pot here, add in the chicken, ginger slices along with 7 to 8 cups of hot water. 

Chicken soup base

Bring to a boil then switch the heat to keep it at a light bubbling stage. Skim-off the foamy bits on top. When the soup appears much clearer without the foamy bits, continue to cook for 40 minutes lid on.

After that, add in magao pepper, Chinese rice cooking wine, and clams. Cook till the clam shells pop open. No need to put back the lid since this step will happen pretty quickly. Taste and adjust with some salt. I only added 1/2 teaspoon of salt for mine.

Making clam chicken soup

Adding clams to chicken soup definitely boost up the umami level. Also the use of magao pepper brings in a refreshing touch. 

Magao clam and chicken soup

I would say clams, chicken, and magao pepper work like a perfect trio. Just a sudden pop of idea, perhaps I can create a pasta or thin noodles dish with these three elements in the future.

Magao clam and chicken soup

A little note in the end, if you can't finish all the soup at once, at least try to finish the clams first. Clams might shrink a bit more if you try to reheat the soup again. However, I think that all the essence of the clams have been released to the soup, and that's what matters the most to me. 

Extended reading:

Dec 25, 2022

Hijiki and Inari Age Onigiri 羊栖菜豆皮飯糰

Hijiki is definitely one of the key ingredients here. However, I think inari age is equally important, or perhaps have an even bigger role in the make or break of this onigiri recipe.  

I could have used simple aburaage/fried tofu skin instead, but inari age, the "seasoned" fried tofu pouch was already flavored. Its sweet and savory seasonings add a ton of flavor boost to the onigiri. That's why I highly recommend you to use inari age if you can get a hold of it.

Hijiki and inari age onigiri 羊栖菜豆皮飯糰 - 

Hijiki and inari age onigiri

Ingredients (about 4 to 6 portions)?

  • 1 to 1.5 rice-measuring cups short grain white rice
  • 2 tablespoons dried hijiki
  • 2 sheets inari age (seasoned fried tofu pouch)
  • 150 grams chicken breast
  • 1 small chunk carrot
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon double-condensed tsuyu


Cook the rice with slightly lesser water than usual. Once done, fluff the rice and let them cool off before making into onigiri. You can use leftover rice that's been stored in the fridge too.

Soak the dried hijiki in cold water for 20 minutes. Once ready, drain and set aside. I've got before and after soaking pictures side by side so you can see how much the hijiki has puffed up afterwards.

Dried hijiki

Soaked hijiki

Cut the chicken breast into short strips. Peel and julienne the carrot. Cut the inari age to strips.

Ingredients for hijiki onigiri

Try to use the flavorful inari age, but if you can't find it, regular tofu skin will do, just remember to add about 1 extra teaspoon of sugar during the cooking process later on.

Take a non-stick pan, pour in 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and turn to medium heat. Once the oil warms up, transfer the carrot over and stir-fry for about a minute, or till softened a bit.

Add the chicken and cook till the strips are separated from one another. 

Stir-frying ingredients for onigiri

Add in drained hijiki and inari age strips. Give it a quick mix and cook for another minute or so.

Add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of tsuyu. Mix till evenly blended. Keep stir-frying the mixture till it dries up a little. Once ready, scoop out and transfer to a big mixing container.

Stir-fried ingredients for onigiri

Mix in room temperature rice, at least not steamy hot, fluff till evenly blended with the stir-fried ingredients. You might need to use more or less rice, I'll let you be the judge of it.

Rice mixture before turning into onigiri

Lay out a sheet of cling foil in the center of the working surface. Scoop some rice mixture over and grab all four ends to tighten up the shape of the rice within. Try to press and shape the rice ball into triangular shaped onigiri. Remove the cling foil and set the onigiri to serving plate.

Using cling foil to shape onigiri

Repeat for the remaining rice. You might want to change the cling foil after one or two onigiri. It'll be easier to grab, tighten, and shape the rice it holds. 

Shaping the rice mixture into onigiri can be quite a challenge with unexperienced hands. Try a few more times, don't stress if onigiri falls apart, it still tastes good no matter the shape. 

Hijiki and inari age onigiri

However, don't give up too early. Based on my past experiences, the key of making onigiri for beginners is that you have to press even tighter, giving the rice much more force than you think. 

Hijiki and inari age onigiri

I know that on TV or videos these Japanese aunties can always make numbers of onigiri with ease. Their hand movements are so gentle and all the sudden a perfectly triangle-shaped onigiri popped up. Not for the novice hands. Aim for the rice that can stick onto one another without falling apart, and perhaps through time, we will become one of these expert aunties in the art of ideally pressed onigiri. 

Dec 19, 2022

No Butter Needed Curry Spices Roasted Chicken Legs

The reason why I emphasized that there's no butter involved here is that I found many roasted chicken recipes use either butter or heavy cream. Even though my symptoms are not as serious as others, but I'm among one of the many lactose-intolerance people. So I would like to create a dairy-free roasted chicken recipe that are just as flavorful as the buttery counterparts. 

No butter needed curry spices roasted chicken legs - 

No butter needed curry spice roasted chicken legs


  • 3 large chicken leg (including the thigh and the drumstick)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 lemon
  • Some olive oil

Spice mix - 

  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika


Use whole leg quarter, that means thigh plus drumstick, also skin-on and with bones too. If you can't find whole pieces of chicken legs, simple drumsticks will do. Just remember to shorten the roasting time.

Mix all the spices under the "spice mix" section.

Curry spices mix

Use a medium large roasting tray, transfer the chicken over and rub the spices throughout, top and bottom too.

Curry spices covered chicken legs

Cover with cling foil and rest in the fridge for 2 hours. I suppose even overnight should be fine, that way you can always prep ahead and pop the whole thing into the oven later on.

Curry spices covered chicken legs

When ready to cook, remove the chicken from the fridge and rest till the meat almost reaches room temperature before transferring to the oven.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit/204 degrees Celsius. 

Meanwhile, peel and slice the onion to rings or half-ring shape. Set the onion to the very bottom of the roasting tray. Our goal is to use the onion as a holder with chicken resting on top. Slice the lemon to big wedges and disperse to the roasting tray.

Drizzle enough olive oil to the chicken. Because we are not using butter as many recipes suggest, it's important to make sure all the surface has been covered in olive oil instead. 

Curry spices chicken legs

Into the oven and roast for 25 minutes. After that, turn up the heat to 425 degrees Fahrenheit/218 degrees Celsius. Continue to roast the chicken for 10 more minutes, or till the top appears golden brown color. 

Remove the entire tray from heat and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

No butter needed curry spices roasted chicken legs

One thing about roasting chicken legs is that it's hard to mess up dark meat. Even if you leave them in the oven a bit longer, usually the center still remain moist and tender.

I would suggest to squeeze some lemon juice throughout after roasting. Simply use the lemon wedges that's been cooked together with the chicken, squeeze out the very last bits of juice to add more flavors to the meat. 

Extended reading:

Dec 14, 2022

de nuit French Restaurant - Hands Down A+ Service Michelin Restaurant in Taipei

"By night," as the restaurant's name suggests, you'll find yourself walking into a cozy space mainly filled with indigo and grey design, which echoes the tone of nightfall seamlessly. 

de nuit quail egg

"I'm not carrying my heavy DSLR camera tonight," as I said to Mister. Instead, I'm going to use his recently purchased iPhone 14 for the food pictures. It's also a great opportunity to test out the new phone's camera capability in a very dark setting.

de nuit door front

Without a bulky camera, I was happy to switch to my mini shoulder bag instead of a big tote bag. For that, I've also decided to put on comfy shoes, easy to walk long distance but still formal enough to dine at a Michelin restaurant. My plan is to stroll around the city after dinner. Considering the location of de nuit, there should be plenty new stores to see along the main roads, also a nice way to feel and explore the city at night once a while, on foot.

de nuit door front

We arrived a bit early than our 6 p.m. reservation, so the roll-up door was still half way open. To kill the minutes in between, we started to investigate the surrounding neighborhood. Turned out there's a liquor store/wine tasting place right next to it. 

de nuit lighting

Seems like the whole place has been booked for a group of young people. The reason for my assumption is that during our dinner at de nuit, I can hear the muffled cheering noise, must be watching FIFA World Cup there. We also stumbled upon one happy and buzzed couple outside the restaurant.

de nuit hallway

The noise from next door was totally fine even when we were having an intimate dining moment. It doesn't bother much, more so kind of "lively" and suited for a city setting.

de nuit interior

Right on time, de nuit pulled up the door and we walked through a hallway into the main dining area. The place is rather petite compared to what I had in mind. There's also a small private room on the side.

de nuit interior

My original plan of testing out the new iPhone under dimmed environment might not work here. The restaurant actually took some effort in fixing the spotlight to a certain angle on every table. That way, the servers or the diners can place the food under the light for the best image outcome.

de nuit interior

That puts de nuit a picture-friendly fine dining restaurant, as long as you turn-off the flashlight and not pointing your camera or your phone to other customers.

de nuit menu du jour

Menu of the night, including drinks and pairings.

de nuit pairing menu

de nuit drinks menu

I was going to try their tea pairing, but hesitated because I already had my share of oolong tea during day time. Good thing is that as for the wine pairing, de nuit also offer half-glasses option, just the right amount for my recent tolerance level. Not quite buzzed at all but it'll do the trick of enjoyment and level up the dishes (don't drink and drive by the way).

Butter and fleur de sel for the upcoming bread -

de nuit butter and fleur de sel

I can't recall if there's one fine dining restaurant, especially Michelin-leveled offer tap water in Taiwan, so there it was, our fancy bottled mineral water -

Fancy bottled mineral water

The server asked if we would like lemon in our water, I said yes, but not for Mister. It's that little details they noticed and truly kept in mind. Towards the end of our meal, Mister finished his water and I still have more than half glass full. Doesn't feel necessary to get another bottle, I passed down my water to Mister instead. The server soon went up to Mister and asked if he would like the lemon inside to be picked out, since Mister didn't want lemon in his water initially.

First wine pairing: Laherte Frères Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature NV, Champagne, France -

de nuit wine pairing

Not just for the food, even the sommelier pays extra attention on how the wine is presented and try to strike a best angle for the customer to take pictures.

de nuit wine pairing

Some hardcore customers would use a voice recorder to take notes on the food, that doesn't work for me. Before I would type down the descriptions from the server and sommelier to my phone right after their elaboration. Nowadays, I try to enjoy the food first, then perhaps key-in some thoughts in between courses.

de nuit wine pairing

Of course my memories faded even after such short time frame, but I take it as what's the most important will still remain in my head. It is a more compromising way for me to take note while not severely interfering with the dining experience. 

Also personally I don't like the servers to see me jotting down the notes, not mentioning letting them glimpse and saw what I've wrote. So I tend to quickly put down my phone when I sense someone is coming or passing by. That didn't work out quite as well, half way through, the kind server came and asked if I need any more information. They can always come to me and tell me more about their food, ingredients used, sauce components and such if needed. I was a little shy, but thanks for the kind gesture. 

de nuit bread

Refillable sour dough and baguette. Server also suggested to use the bread to dip in some food sauces if applicable.

First course: Langoustine, fennel, sour cream. Second course: smoked eel, abalone, Oscietra caviar - 

de nuit langoustine and caviar

The langoustine course is the one presented in phyllo shells. Shells made with phyllo dough sheets are lighter with a paper thin crunch to it compared to traditional tart shells. I think the lighter shell works really well with airy mousse filling.

de nuit langoustine and caviar

Then we moved on to the slightly heavier-textured second course with whole wheat bread. It's not hard to find the smoked eel, but where's the abalone? Turned out that they thinly sliced the abalone and situated in between the eel and the whole wheat bread. 

Quail egg, aioli, ruby black tea - 

de nuit quail egg

The server asked us to be ready for the upcoming scene, better to get my video recording ready because everything happens so quickly. I thought I did. Unfortunately I wasn't that familiar with Mister's new iPhone function yet so turned out my video was either tilted or shaken. At least I got the still images alright. 

de nuit quail egg

What I failed to capture was the smoke flowing out when the server removed the lid of this quail egg dish. The scene was dreamy yet made you drool a little with all that beech wood smoky goodness. 

de nuit quail egg

The soft-boiled egg was infused with ruby black tea, thus the golden brownish hue. You devour the whole thing, the egg and the fried rice vermicelli all together at once. It's a mixture of velvety versus gentle crunch, a hint of smokiness and tea aroma, very good and eye-pleasing with the whole presentation. 

Second wine pairing: Lvnae Bosoni Etichetta Nera Vermentino Colli di Luni DOC 2020, Liguria, Italy -

de nuit wine pairing

Note that it's half-glass pairing, plus the shape of the glass, I should be savour the wine rather than "drinking" the wine.

de nuit wine pairing

Ratatouille -

de nuit ratatouille

One of the classic French dishes, ratatouille was especially famous thanks to the popular animation back in 2007. The traditional ratatouille was compiled by assorted vegetable slices on a dish. 

de nuit ratatouille

Here at de nuit, the ratatouille stood up as a three-dimensional cylinder with a vibrant garden theme. As you can see edible flowers on top, also the colorful basil, tomato, and carrot sauce surrounding. 

de nuit ratatouille

Break the cylinder apart, you'll find red sauce hidden within. Surprisingly, this ratatouille doesn't taste as soft and gentle as its appearance suggests. The flavor had a unique scent to it, almost like the aroma from a fresh off the oven baked potato chips. A pleasant kick among all the tender ingredients. 

Third wine pairing: Domaine Pattes Loup Chablis Vent d'Ange -

de nuit wine pairing

It was only till the time I wrote this blog post then I realized that the third wine pairing was different from the menu. However, I do enjoy it, both the taste and the little background on the wine label told by the sommelier. The French wine description said it all, but if you can't read it, would you like to take a guess which two elements can be seen on the wine label?

de nuit wine pairing






Wolf claws and angel. 

Market fish, vin jaune, scallop -

de nuit red tilefish

Such romantic color scheme, with pinkish hue brushing over these ingredients, it says the beginning of spring time to me.

de nuit red tilefish

The fish they used was red tilefish, which has been a popular fish selection among the fine dining restaurants in Taiwan. The cost of the fish was decent, and after basting or some other cooking techniques, the file scale crisps up, that extra crunch and fried aroma is always a crowd pleaser. 

de nuit red tilefish

They poured over some tarragon oil in the center. A hint of licorice-like aroma add just the right amount of flavor to this delicate course. 

The fun part is that I couldn't really recognize where's the scallop? Ended up it was that semi-sphere thing on the plate. Its texture is almost like a version in between the actual scallop and mousse. Normally not my favorite but I think its creaminess works well here as a side and let the main fish shine instead.

Lobster, citrus, couscous -

de nuit lobster

Inspired by the Brittany fish soup, but the commonly used starchy ingredient potato has been substituted by pumpkin flavored couscous. Very comforting and homey at the same time. The portion is good too, I can even get a big piece of lobster in every spoonful of soup.

de nuit lobster

de nuit lobster

Mister was choking, not too seriously, I guess he was trying to tell me something but started coughing instead. He tried to hold back and lowered the coughing sound as much as he could. Guess what? Soon after the server brought over a cup of hot water. Very thoughtful move. I felt back because I was like Mister will be fine just need to cough it out, so I didn't really do anything and just kept eating. Oops. 

de nuit lobster

Aged quail, foie gras, fermented grape -

de nuit aged quail

Lessons learned. The serve asked me to prepare to video recording the quail if preferred. Nope, not this time, I will stick to the pictures solely.

de nuit aged quail

de nuit aged quail

Another wave of scented smoke once the lid has been removed.

de nuit aged quail

Aged quail was brushed with some grape juice during the cooking process. Underneath you'll find hay, grape leaves, and pine needles, all contributed to the smoky aroma. This was just for the show, the entire piece of meat soon sent back to the kitchen waiting for slicing and placing onto the final plates.

Forth wine pairing: Waterkloof Circle of Life 2020, Stellenbosch, South Africa -

de nuit wine pairing

I kind of like the fact that our sommelier put more emphasis on telling the story behind the wine label, instead of getting too much into detailed viticulture or grate varieties. I know grape varieties and flavors are important, but sometimes I wonder how many customers can really relate to that. 

I actually studied wine back then just out of interest and passed WSET level 3, but that's just me. I would guess the majority of the diners don't have in-depth knowledge or interests in regards to such information. It's like a Google engineer trying to show me how the coding works, you'll only find my head spinning under my friendly smiley face. So why not take a different approach, putting more emphasis on the story behind the wine label, that might raise some eyebrows and draw in more attention instead.

de nuit wine pairing

So this bottle, circle of life, the sommelier showed us the images of booming and dying grapevine circled around the bottle, printed on recycled paper material too. I find that interesting.

Our aged quail has come back -

de nuit aged quail

The color vibe is just as romantic as the earlier red tilefish course, but with a tad earthy tone to it. The center sauce was made with Kyoho grapes, cardamom, and quail bones. Unlike what one would usually expect from a concentrated sauce, it's actually quite delicate and had a hint of sweet scent to it. 

de nuit aged quail

The leg section was stuffed with foie gras. From there, I put down my fork and knife and decided to enjoy by hand. Once again, thoughtful server soon came over and presented with a bottle of disinfection alcohol, so that I can spray some to the napkin to clean my fingers with. 

Fifth wine pairing: Ximénez-Spínola Fermentación Lenta 2019, Jerez, Spain -

de nuit wine pairing

Iberico bellota pluma, juniper, morel -

de nuit Iberico pork

The server specifically asked if we were good with the doneness from the previous quail course, it seemed that some customers prefer a more cooked-through version. Not us, we like it just the way Chef thinks what's the best doneness to enjoy the meat.

de nuit Iberico pork

Just to be safe, the server came over and inquired about our preference for the bellota pork. With such high quality pork, again, we are totally fine if the center of the meat turns out on the pink side. It was a nice gesture from the restaurant though, to really put the customer first even it means the kitchen had to prep the meat well-done.

de nuit Iberico pork

We do love our pinkish bellota pork. It was tender and slightly juicy as you continue to chew on it. The green bits inside are pistachio and spinach. To accompany the pork, there's juniper-infused sauce in the center and red cabbage purple sauce on the side. A hint of bitter, slightly peppery and herbal, goes hand in hand with the result of acorn-fed pork.

de nuit Iberico pork

Cheese plate -

de nuit cheese plate

We're at a French restaurant after all, so here it came a small assembly of cheese plate, which includes blue cheese and 30-month aged comté, paired with 10-year balsamic vinegar, jam, nuts, and gold dusted honey.

de nuit cheese plate

Sugar apple, chrysanthemum, sake -

de nuit sugar apple

Sorbet came to my rescue. Opposite to Mister, I enjoyed the blue cheese but was having a hard time with comté. What a pleasant sight to see a refreshing sorbet coming up. It's like getting your hand burned by the oven then this chilly water stream pouring down right on time to sooth the sensation. 

We get one dessert each, so we chose two different kinds in order to try out all the options on the menu.

de nuit dessert

Chestnut, blueberry, cumin - 

de nuit chestnut dessert

Inspired by the classic French dessert Mont Blanc, here the chestnut component undergone liquid nitrogen treatment, became icy topping above the cumin-infuse dacquoise. However, with its temperature and the strong character of chestnut, one would hardly know that there was cumin involved unless known beforehand.

Grapefruit, orange, lemon marigold leaf - 

de nuit grapefruit dessert

The flavor combo can trick you into thinking that this is supposedly a refreshing citrusy dessert. Well, if you treat the idea "refreshing" differently...

de nuit grapefruit dessert

They took the idea from another French dessert baba au rhum, which is basically yeast cake soaked in rum syrup. I definitely underestimate the alcohol level here, the kick was more than all my half-glass wine pairing combined. 

Mignardise -

de nuit mignardise

Religieuse on the left, which is made of two choux pastry cases stacking on top of each other looking like a miniature snowman. Paired with vanilla filling and dusted with salt flakes on top. In the center you'll find matcha and oolong tea combo with texture similar to chocolate bonbon. On the right, Poudre de Piment d'Espelette AOP and passion fruit flavored macaron.

de nuit hot tea

I double checked with the server in regards to which one actually used the chili powder Poudre de Piment d'Espelette AOP. I thought I got the sequence wrong and the choux pastry was in fact the one infused with chili powder due to its darker appearance. Ended up the softest-looking macaron was the one with a spicy kick.

Server even brought over the spice jar in case I want to find out more about the chili powder. One more example of their thoughtful and extended act.     

de nuit chili jar

After paying the bill and ready to leave, the server accompanied us on our way out the restaurant. At the door, she gave us a little gift before we start our "on foot" tour of the city. The bag had two madeleines inside, a sweet act from the restaurant.

de nuit takeaway gift

de nuit takeaway gift

We didn't really have in mind how long we were going to walk down the streets. Just miraculously we happened to show up at a sweet treats place that opens till late night in the east area of Taipei. We weren't even hungry, but again, I have no idea why we ended up with one extra sugary dessert on our way home.

Mister devoured the whole thing that night. 

By the way, the take-home madeleines were to die for. They were so good that I even thought about having them all for myself and not sharing to Mister. The madeleines taste a bit like canelé, especially the edges had a condensed caramelized aroma to it, and the center was moist. I would order many boxes and send to my friends and families if de nuit decides to sell these goodies on the side. It's that good. 

de nuit currently holds one Michelin star status.

de nuit French Restaurant

Number 175, Section 4, Xinyi Road, Da'an District, 

Taipei City, Taiwan

+886 2 2700 1958

Restaurant website:


Opening hours:

Lunch - Friday, Saturday, Sunday 11:30 a.m. ~ 3:00 p.m.

Dinner - Tuesday to Saturday 6:00 p.m. ~ 10:30 p.m.

Closed on Sunday and Monday