These morsels make a great snack and are fun to serve because each of your guests gets a small pile of packages containing tasty marinated chicken pieces. They could be served canapé-style to accompany drinks or on a buffet table as part of a wider selection. The packages’ contents are intensely perfumed with star anise and ginger. You could also make them using cubes of fish or pork, or some prawns. Or perhaps you would like them more spicy, or with a different combination of spices. Ingredients
– Makes 23–30 parcels. – 1½in (3.5cm) piece of fresh ginger, peeled. – 1 tbsp soy sauce. – 2 tbsp rice wine. – 1 tsp spiced salt (see below). – ½ tsp sugar. – 5 star anise, broken into pieces. – vegetable oil for deep-frying. – 6 chicken breast halves (1½–3lb total). – fresh cilantro leaves (optional). – fresh chili sauce (optional). – freshly ground black pepper. – For the spiced salt. – 2 tbsp salt. – 1 tsp five-spice powder.
Step 1: To make the spiced salt, mix together the salt and five-spice powder. Dryroast in a clean frying pan over low heat for 3–4 minutes until fragrant, stirring the mixture to prevent burning. Let cool. This keeps indefinitely when stored airtight at room temperature. Using a pestle and mortar, crush the ginger to a coarse pulp. Take the pulp in your hand and squeeze all the juice from the ginger into a bowl. (Alternatively, finely chop the ginger, then mash on a board using the back of a knife until you have a coarse pulp.) Discard the squeezed pulp. Mix the juice with the soy sauce, rice wine, 1 tsp spiced salt, sugar, star anise, and 1 tbsp oil. Lay the chicken breasts in a flat glass or ceramic dish. Pour the marinade over the top and season with black pepper. Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Cut parchment paper into 30 rectangles measuring about 12 x 6in (30 x 15cm) each. Lightly oil each piece of paper. Cut each chicken breast into 5 even-sized pieces, and place a piece of chicken on each piece of paper with a little piece of star anise picked from the marinade. Tightly wrap up the chicken like a small parcel, using toothpicks to secure the edges. 5Heat the oil in a heavy pan over medium-high heat for deep-frying. Fry the chicken parcels in batches for 3–4 minutes or until the paper browns. Drain well on paper towels and serve, allowing your guests to unwrap the parcels for themselves. Garnish with lots of fresh cilantro and chili sauce (if using).