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

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

A visionary new master class in cooking that distills decades of professional experience into just four simple elements, from the woman declared “America’s next great cooking teacher” by Alice Waters.In the tradition of The Joy of Cooking and How to Cook Everything comes Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, an ambitious new approach to cooking by a major new culinary voice. Chef and writer Samin...

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Title:Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking
Author:Samin Nosrat
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Edition Language:English

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

  • Chessa

    Full review at

    I love a good cookbook, but Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat goes beyond the normal boundaries of the genre. I would almost say that this book is like the kosher salt in your kitchen - it's going to enhance alllll the other recipes and cookbooks in your life. Personally, I have more confidence in my cooking than before reading this book, AND my food is more delicious. I couldn't' really ask for anything more!

  • Juli Anna

    I do not purchase cookbooks lightly, but I will be seeking out a copy of this one. I will also be enthusiastically recommending this book to everyone I know with a kitchen and tastebuds. This is the rare cookbook that transcends boundaries of cooking experience, background, and personal taste preferences. I would just as easily recommend this book to a picky eater who's just starting out cooking as to a voracious and kitchen-experienced foodie.

    Nosrat has created a solid system for te

    I do not purchase cookbooks lightly, but I will be seeking out a copy of this one. I will also be enthusiastically recommending this book to everyone I know with a kitchen and tastebuds. This is the rare cookbook that transcends boundaries of cooking experience, background, and personal taste preferences. I would just as easily recommend this book to a picky eater who's just starting out cooking as to a voracious and kitchen-experienced foodie.

    Nosrat has created a solid system for teaching people how to really taste their food and use four simple elements to balance flavors and textures. While she gives solid scientific reasons for the lessons in this book, she is not dogmatic about recipes or precise directions, at least not in the way that

    , for example, is. Instead, she encourages cooks to use their own senses as guides toward their own perfect cuisine. There are recipes here, but Nosrat is insistent that they are not to be followed by rote. I love how each basic recipe gives way to a myriad of variations, showing how they

    as a part of a meal (adding acid or crunch or richness, for example), rather than simply showing off a combination of fancy ingredients.

    This book is much more of a textbook than a traditional cookbook: in fact, right off the bat, Nosrat suggests that her readers read cover-to-cover, rather than picking their way back and forth through the pages. Her recipes are purposefully classic (corn chowder, tuna confit, fried chicken, etc.) and invite personalization. I don't think there's single trendy ingredient in sight; the recipes require no such frills.

    Again, I cannot recommend this cookbook more strongly; it is an absolute gem.

  • C

    This book is flat-out genius and more than deserves all the praise it received. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is far from a normal cookbook: Nosrat uses approachable, funny prose and helpful drawings to explain the basics of cooking and baking by considering the elements of salt, fat, acid, and heat. In this way the book really teaches you how to cook everything, not just the recipes clustered at the book's conclusion. This is a cookbook you actually READ vs flipping through a litany of recipes before g

    This book is flat-out genius and more than deserves all the praise it received. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is far from a normal cookbook: Nosrat uses approachable, funny prose and helpful drawings to explain the basics of cooking and baking by considering the elements of salt, fat, acid, and heat. In this way the book really teaches you how to cook everything, not just the recipes clustered at the book's conclusion. This is a cookbook you actually READ vs flipping through a litany of recipes before giving up. I can't overemphasize how enjoyable I found this book.

  • Gina

    This book is so interesting! I never read regular cook books because I just Google specific recipes when I need to. This book is a "how to cook book" or cooking theory. There are lots of things that seem obvious once I read them (like places that have meadows for grazing use lots of butter, but other places use other oils/fats. Duh, but I had never thought about it.) Or some things that I had read in recipes but didn't get the reasoning (like let ingredients come to room temperature before begin

    This book is so interesting! I never read regular cook books because I just Google specific recipes when I need to. This book is a "how to cook book" or cooking theory. There are lots of things that seem obvious once I read them (like places that have meadows for grazing use lots of butter, but other places use other oils/fats. Duh, but I had never thought about it.) Or some things that I had read in recipes but didn't get the reasoning (like let ingredients come to room temperature before beginning). There's a little bit of science in it, but not much. It's typical of what you'd hear chefs say on a cooking show.

    I'm writing this without trying any of the specific recipes at the end, so if they're all terrible I might change my mind.

    But I have already thought about and used some things during regular (Gobble delivery) cooking.

    Also, I like the prose and feel like the author is giving direction in a chatty way.

    Recommend to people who are interested in learning how to become more intuitive cooks and are interested in the science-ish foundations for cooking.

  • Ariel ✨

    If you order takeout for every meal or have a personal chef, feel free to ignore this book. Everyone else on the planet, do yourselves a favor and read her first four chapters! I consider myself a decent cook for an untrained young adult with mediocre cookware, but Samin Nosrat blew my mind with her simple and honest tips and lessons. Apparently, I've been using the wrong salt this whole time, bottled lime juice is the devil, you don't melt the butter for baked goods!!!, and acid is way underuti

    If you order takeout for every meal or have a personal chef, feel free to ignore this book. Everyone else on the planet, do yourselves a favor and read her first four chapters! I consider myself a decent cook for an untrained young adult with mediocre cookware, but Samin Nosrat blew my mind with her simple and honest tips and lessons. Apparently, I've been using the wrong salt this whole time, bottled lime juice is the devil, you don't melt the butter for baked goods!!!, and acid is way underutilized in all of my dishes.

    I will say that Nosrat's class privilege peeks through many times throughout the book. "Skip culinary school; spend a fraction of the cost of tuition traveling the world instead!" Okay, Samin...that's not realistic advice for most of us. It was nice to read about how she worked her way up from a busser at a fancy restaurant to where she is now, but as with most people who are immersed in the gourmet food world, some of her advice was out of touch with the audience I think she was hoping to reach.

    There's a lot of advice about cooking with meat and dairy, but vegetarians and vegans will also find this book useful. She covers non-dairy fats and writes at length about how different vegetables and non-meat proteins should be seasoned and cooked.

    I tweeted at her and asked if the beautifully illustrated charts throughout the book would ever be available for purchase, and she told me she was working on making that happen! I'm going to buy them all and hang them in my kitchen.

  • Sarah

    What a great idea for a cookbook! I feel like this should be required reading for anyone even marginally interested in cooking. For one thing, it's fascinating, and very well written. But perhaps more importantly, Ms. Nosrat provides a non-intimidating guide to correcting the mistakes (over- or under-seasoning, not knowing which ingredients pair well together, not knowing how to cook a cut of meat, etc.) that scare folks out of the kitchen. Genius! The number one comment I hear when I talk about

    What a great idea for a cookbook! I feel like this should be required reading for anyone even marginally interested in cooking. For one thing, it's fascinating, and very well written. But perhaps more importantly, Ms. Nosrat provides a non-intimidating guide to correcting the mistakes (over- or under-seasoning, not knowing which ingredients pair well together, not knowing how to cook a cut of meat, etc.) that scare folks out of the kitchen. Genius! The number one comment I hear when I talk about tackling a challenging recipe: "I couldn't do that." Or, "I wouldn't dare try that." That makes me so sad, because cooking is definitely a skill perfected with trial and error. Here, Ms. Nosrat equips the reader with information that takes some of the guesswork out of the trial and error part of cooking. It's just wonderful.

    I received a review copy of this cookbook from NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

  • Bonny

    does offer an interesting way to think about the preparation of food, but I didn't find it “indispensable” or one that I “can't imagine living without” as Michael Pollan writes in the foreword. Author Samin Nosrat tells us that “there are only four basic factors that determine how good your food will taste: salt, which enhances flavor; fat, which amplifies flavor and makes appealing textures possible; acid, which brightens and balances; and heat, which ultimately determines the

    does offer an interesting way to think about the preparation of food, but I didn't find it “indispensable” or one that I “can't imagine living without” as Michael Pollan writes in the foreword. Author Samin Nosrat tells us that “there are only four basic factors that determine how good your food will taste: salt, which enhances flavor; fat, which amplifies flavor and makes appealing textures possible; acid, which brightens and balances; and heat, which ultimately determines the texture of food.” Those four are important and she conveys important information about how to use each of these to make better food. I personally wondered where sugar fit into this and why she left it out of the basic four. She does talk about sugar in each section, but mainly to say that salt will mask bitterness more effectively than sugar, and sugar is a good balance for acid. This first section in written in a chatty tone, telling the reader about mistakes she made along the way along with things she did that worked. It is a little imtimidating to the average reader/cook to read about Alice Waters and Chez Panisse, but Nosrat's writing conveys her passion without being overbearing.

    The second section has recipes, and while most of them sounded like they would be good, I didn't find any that I felt I simply had to make. The author might have a gift for making things far more complicated than I want to be in the kitchen. She has a recipe for Torn Croutons that has only bread and olive oil as ingredients, but goes on for four pages to obtain “even, yet rustic-looking” croutons. The Summer Tomato and Herb Salad lists tomatoes, salt, vinaigrette, and herbs for ingredients, and then continues for five pages of instructions. I think many of us have probably made this deliciously without a recipe at all. Chicken Pot Pie takes up seven pages and includes the sentence “Nestle the browned chicken into the vegetables.” (Nestle just made me laugh!)

    Making good food is both a science and an art, and something I enjoy trying to do most times I prepare food. For me, that also includes simplifying things when possible. I think Samin Nosrat is an exceptional cook who makes exceptional food, but I don't think that her methods (and urging cooks to season cooking water with “palmfuls of salt”) will become indispensable in my own kitchen.

    Book Bingo 2017 - About food

  • Cynthia

    I bought this after seeing her at an author talk. She's INCREDIBLY fun and lively and the book is wonderfully illustrated. She brings a lot of cooking experience, humor, and scientific knowledge to her explanation of how an understanding of the four basics of salt, fat, acid and heat can enable you to cook pretty much anything in the kitchen.

    Perversely, what I found was that this book actually made me feel more intimidated about cooking, not less, despite her funny stories about real-life

    I bought this after seeing her at an author talk. She's INCREDIBLY fun and lively and the book is wonderfully illustrated. She brings a lot of cooking experience, humor, and scientific knowledge to her explanation of how an understanding of the four basics of salt, fat, acid and heat can enable you to cook pretty much anything in the kitchen.

    Perversely, what I found was that this book actually made me feel more intimidated about cooking, not less, despite her funny stories about real-life kitchen mistakes and her reminders that, e.g., it's just stew, if it doesn't work this time you can try it again. I got her basic message that you need to understand the four tools and then you can improvise. But there was a sort of subtext about "I made this polenta following the recipe at Chez Panisse and the gifted professional chef tasted it and made an adjustment I never would have expected, and as a result the dish went from bland to fantastic." I cook a lot and am basically happy if everything looks nice and is basically tasty. After reading this, I started to feel like every dish in a meal has to be ... perfected, and at a higher level of flavor than I am probably currently achieving. So ... a good cookbook, maybe best of all for a younger cook who can absorb the information without having a crisis of confidence. Lively, funny, informative but ... ultimately not the best cookbook, for me, that I've read this year. The recipes that make up the second half of the book are fine and appealing but, again, nothing that made me flag the page and think, "Wow, can't wait to try this one!"

  • Mehrsa

    I was frustrated by this book. But it was also fantastic.

    Why it's good: It's just an excellent explanation for cooking and a great way to view the whole enterprise. I love cooking and am pretty decent at making the stuff I like, but there was a lot in here that you get intuitively as a cook that is nice to see explained and spelled out. Like the acid part. I already love salt and I have intuitively used acid (lemon and vinegar) in most of my foods, but it was great to understand why.

    The frustr

    I was frustrated by this book. But it was also fantastic.

    Why it's good: It's just an excellent explanation for cooking and a great way to view the whole enterprise. I love cooking and am pretty decent at making the stuff I like, but there was a lot in here that you get intuitively as a cook that is nice to see explained and spelled out. Like the acid part. I already love salt and I have intuitively used acid (lemon and vinegar) in most of my foods, but it was great to understand why.

    The frustrating: Some it was very obvious and other parts were too complex without recipes (for example when she talks about bread dough, breads, and emulsion.

    My main beef with the book is that it's all about Alice Waters and what she likes. I already know about Alice Waters and frankly, didn't want to read another book about her. I was MUCH MUCH more interested to hear about Nosrat's grandparents and family in Iran and how they work salt, acid, fat, and heat in their food--developed over thousands of years. Or Indian or Italian. She gives hints about her family's cuisine, but keeps coming back to what Alice said and does. But Alice did not invent the tricks of cooking. I would bet her grandmother could teach her a lot more about the subtleties of flavor. I know because I have a grandma just like hers.

  • Hesper

    Kind of disappointing overall, but that's a relative opinion. I'm pretty sure the value of this rises in direct proportion to how little time the reader has spent cooking & learning about food prior to picking this up, and how much patience one has for the story part of recipe blogs. After a few pages the tone goes from breezy to grating fast. Yes, it has useful information even for experienced cooks, but it doesn't really feel "indispensable."

    Also, omitting garlic and adding gin

    Kind of disappointing overall, but that's a relative opinion. I'm pretty sure the value of this rises in direct proportion to how little time the reader has spent cooking & learning about food prior to picking this up, and how much patience one has for the story part of recipe blogs. After a few pages the tone goes from breezy to grating fast. Yes, it has useful information even for experienced cooks, but it doesn't really feel "indispensable."

    Also, omitting garlic and adding ginger instead to the list of Eastern European spice pantry staples is laughable and criminal. Minus one star just for that.

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