Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking, by Samin Nosrat. Published in April, 2017. 480 pages.
It seems to me that the eve of the American holiday which centers almost exclusively on the idea of giving thanks for our food is the perfect occasion to review the best seller Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.
Because I have a laundry list of food related items on my checklist at this very moment, I’ll keep this short and sweet. This is an excellent book for novice cooks, because it lays out the best ways to use what Samin refers to as the four elements of cooking which, once understood, makes creating great food an attainable goal; even without a recipe to follow:
“Season food with the proper amount of salt at the proper moment; choose the optimal medium of fat to convey the flavor of your ingredients; balance and animate those ingredients with acid; apply the right type and quantity of heat for the proper amount of time—do all this and you will turn out vibrant and beautiful food, with or without a recipe.”
There wasn’t much here that I hadn’t figured out to some degree over my nearly 25 years as a wife and home cook. Nevertheless, I still learned a few tricks from this book. More than teaching me anything, it gave voice and cohesive expression to elements of cooking which I already knew and was using in my own cooking. I also really enjoyed the scientific approach and explanations of how certain elements, such as salt, interact with foods to produce the desired flavor:
The distribution of salt throughout food can be explained by osmosis and diffusion, two chemical processes powered by nature’s tendency to seek equilibrium, or the balanced concentration of solutes such as minerals and sugars on either side of a semipermeable membrane (or holey cell wall).
The combination of these scientific notes and the enthusiastic exuberance Samin expresses with respect to food and cooking, made for a very entertaining book. It’s worth a read.
And if you happen to have Netflix, the four episode series by the same name (Salt, Fat Acid, Heat), is well worth a look.
We are a cooking family making many memories and original concoctions in our kitchen. Because of that, we loved watching this show and concluded that Samin Nosrat is the kind of foodie we would all love to be friends with: One who actually cooks!
Have a blessed and enjoyable Thanksgiving. Laugh, cook, eat and enjoy your families.
5 out of 5 stars