Recreated from Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
--I’ll have the Kung Pao chicken.
There’s a lot of incidental food in fiction – things that characters happen to be eating as part of the everyday – and then there’s Significant Food. I'd say the two most meaningful meals in Sylvain Neuvel’s Sleeping Giants are cinnamon buns (File No. 189) and Kung Pao chicken (File No. 230). The cinnamon buns are camaraderie on a plate, while the Kung Pao chicken is about taking heed. To declare my full cooperation, I’ve chosen to recreate the Kung Pao chicken. I’d serve it with Indonesian rice if I were you, just to be on the safe side.
--How big was the hand?
--6.9 meters, about twenty-three feet; though it seemed much larger for an eleven-year-old.
Lontong (compressed jasmine rice) is a sticky Indonesian rice dish that holds it shape when formed into, say, body parts. I served my Kung Pao chicken on a hand (more modestly proportioned than the one we first encounter in the Prologue) because it's the piece that sets all that follows in motion. It’s also a heavy-handed nod to the notion that some things are just out of our hands; like what happens when we don’t go to fetch the cinnamon buns.
For the marinade
To coat the marinated chicken
For the sauce
A note for your tongue: Exceeding the recommended amount of Schezuan peppercorns may cause your mouth to go numb in a way that is interesting and not entirely pleasant.
A note on the hand: Creating a mould took me about 20 minutes. Compressing the rice into the mould took an extra 3-5 minutes per serving. It’s time consuming but worthwhile. To reduce the pressure, you could cook and prepare hands of rice an hour or so before cooking the chicken. It’s still delicious at room temperature.
To prepare in advance: make a mould for the rice (optional)