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Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking

by Samin Nosrat

Other authors: Wendy MacNaughton (Illustrator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,404256,245 (4.38)34
Whether you've never picked up a knife or you're an accomplished chef, there are only four basic factors that determine how good your food will taste. Salt, Fat, Acid, and Heat are the four cardinal directions of cooking, and they will guide you as you choose which ingredients to use and how to cook them, and they will tell you why last minute adjustments will ensure that food tastes exactly as it should. This book will change the way you think about cooking and eating, and help you find your bearings in any kitchen, with any ingredients, while cooking any meal. --… (more)
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» See also 34 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
For those, like me, with the most rudimentary of cooking training and little opportunity to learn more than just how to follow a recipe, this book is eye opening. Perhaps those who are formally trained or schooled at home or in family restaurants by family members who were not afraid to experiment with food, creating their own recipes handed down by generation, take for granted a lot of the knowledge imparted in this book. It is far more than a cookbook -- its 150 recipes do not nearly fill the 480 pages of it. The bulk of it is solid, useful information about why the title elements are important in cooking, how they enhance flavors and why. I have had my copy of Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook since my wedding shower in the 1970s, followed shortly by Irma Rombauer's The Joy of Cooking, and later Julia Childs, The Moosewood, and a variety of others followed. But aside from beloved recipes that I have tried and repeated over the decades in those books, and likely know by heart now, I feel I can pass those on to someone else and use this book alone as my cooking bible. Ironically, after all the years of rebelling against by society's cramped expectations about "women's sphere" and therefore pursuing an education and career in a testosterone-driven profession, I have an urge to learn to cook well and adventurously in my declining years. My partner cooks for us; he spoils me that way, but I want to learn to be better at it and share the kitchen with him and this book is going to be my constant companion when I retire and embark on that new adventure. ( )
  bschweiger | Feb 4, 2024 |
The chapter on salt provides an explanation of the chemistry behind that mineral's essential role in human nutrition and culinary arts.

The book also reinforced my practice (first learned from Angelo Pellegrini's The Unprejudiced Palate") of using rather than following recipes.
( )
  boermsea | Jan 22, 2024 |
Really, really liked this to the point of buying my own copy after the library one was due, though I have yet to put it in practice yet (as typical with my reading of cookbooks... though she does point out that recipes can sometimes restrict you too much) However, I do think about the elements when eating, so there's that? Samin Nosrat really gets into the *why* of how different cooking methods and elements influence flavor, taste, texture, etc. and offers ways to balance and adjust as you go along. Easy to follow along, and Wendy MacNaughton's watercolor illustrations really brighten up the book as you go. Will absolutely refer to this in the future

I have yet to watch the companion Netflix series (I believe the book came first) so I'm curious about how it's presented in video format. ( )
  Daumari | Dec 28, 2023 |
Excellent book passing on lots of useful cooking experience from an experienced chef.

I listened to this book in audiobook form. I would advise against this, and recommend getting the physical book instead.

While the audio version by all accounts is well narrated, I reckon the book is more useful in physical form. Long sections are rapid fire tips for different kinds of cooking situations. Having the book to physically consult seems more useful when you find yourself in a situation where you actually need those tips.

My score is leaning between 3 and 4 - having listened to the audiobook nudges it down to 3. The physical book would probably be a 4.

That said, excellent material explained well. I reckon most home cooks would take away something useful from this. ( )
  Pishmoffle | Mar 27, 2023 |
Definitely learned some new tricks, but I thought the salt and fat and heat sections were stronger than the acid section, where I need the most help! I think the concept of balance still feels elusive and that is what I want to learn. But I definitely moved in the right direction and made a much improved roast chicken! The author has a great "voice", and I look forward to trying things she suggested. ( )
  Anita_Pomerantz | Mar 23, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nosrat, Saminprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
MacNaughton, WendyIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Blind, SofiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pollan, MichaelForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Anyone who likes to eat, can soon learn to cook well.
—Jane Grigson
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For Alice Waters, who gave me the kitchen, and for Maman, who gave me the world
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Whether you've never picked up a knife or you're an accomplished chef, there are only four basic factors that determine how good your food will taste. Salt, Fat, Acid, and Heat are the four cardinal directions of cooking, and they will guide you as you choose which ingredients to use and how to cook them, and they will tell you why last minute adjustments will ensure that food tastes exactly as it should. This book will change the way you think about cooking and eating, and help you find your bearings in any kitchen, with any ingredients, while cooking any meal. --

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