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2003-09-24 | 6:04 p.m.

There is somebody out there in the wild world named Liralen Li, and she posted a method for cooking Ling Ling potstickers in her journal about four years ago. Every so often I pick up a bag of these potstickers and whenever I get ready to cook them, I have to go to Google and find Liralen Li's journal entry about the potstickers. My fear is that someday, Liralen Li will take down her journal (which appears to have been abandoned in 1999) and then I will be at a complete loss. For that reason, I've decided to reprint the salient information here, for my peace of mind.

Costco has these Ling Ling potstickers, frozen chicken and a bit of veggie in 'em. They're spiced right and made to be frozen and just cooked right from the bag. I just put a bit of canola down in the pan, lined the pan with frozen pot stickers, put water to about 2/3rds of the way up the sides of the little dumpling doods and then splashed a bit of cider vinegar into the pan. Put it on the stove on high until it was boiling, put a lid on it and then turned the fire down to about medium and let the puppies steam. When I heard a bit of crackling as all the water evaporated and the oil started to pop, I turned the heat up to medium high, pulled the lid off and then cooked it until the skin against the bottom of the pan that I could see was nearly burnt. When I used a spatula to peel the hard bottomed pot-stickers off the non-stick surface, the crunch and heft of the crust on the bottom was good and golden brown. The thinner paper between the dumplings burns faster, so when it looks overdone, the bottom is actually perfectly done.

I realize the preparation she describes is not all that complicated. I just haven't got it down. The only recipe I've ever memorized (aside from things I know how to make in my sleep, like French toast and chili con carne) was the Tollhouse Cookie recipe on the chocolate chip bag. And that was only so that I could test it with other brands of chocolate chips, such as Guittard, Ghirardelli, and all the other chocolate G's.

Actually, I may have once memorized a recipe for Alfredo sauce. There used to be a chain of shops in the East Bay called Auntie Pasta that sold fresh pasta. I'd get a bundle of fettucine and serve it with this great alfredo sauce, plus mushrooms (either butter-sauteed to a crisp with garlic or duxelles), and confetti-diced bell peppers in three or four colors. That was when I lived with the vegetarian. Here I was, a twentysomething woman who doesn't much like to cook, with about twelve recipes to my name (most of them centering around hamburger), living with a man who imagines he is a four-star chef, who has his own pizza stones and a collection of Chez Panisse cookbooks--yet rarely cooks--and who also happens to be a vegetarian. Cripes!

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