A review by bklassen
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat

funny informative medium-paced


 This book was probably the first cookbook I’ve actually read through instead of reading just the recipes. I think it’s because it takes more of the Serious Eats/Food Lab approach and tells you HOW to cook, not WHAT to cook. Obviously this could not replace culinary school, but I felt like I learned invaluable lessons about why you bring your meat up to temp, why my boiled veggies are bland, what flavors go with each other, and the biggest one: if something feels “off” in a recipe, consider if it needs more acid, more salt, more fat, or different heat to really find that balance. 

I feel like I’ve gotten much better at balancing dishes or tweaking recipes when I ask myself about those four main components. 

Of course, Samin’s writing is very accessible and I really enjoy her professional yet conversational approach to the book. The watercolor diagrams were really nice (and the shortcut charts are handy to boot), but my gripe, as with many other cookbooks, is pictures!! You eat with your eyes, they say, and photographs not only entice you, but they give a good reference for what the final product will look like. 

Granted, I think experienced chefs literally go based on a title and list of ingredients because the rest is just knowing the processes and steps to execute meal components (or at least that’s what I’ve cursorily grasped from Epicurious videos and The Bear). They don’t need photos. But dang it, I’d like them!