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. 

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