In WITF's Kitchen with Chef Donna Desfor

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

Written by Chef Donna Desfor | Jul 3, 2017 8:00 AM
Salt Fat Acid Heat

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking, by Samin Nosrat and art by Wendy MacNaughton, copyright © 2017 by Samin Nosrat.  Illustrations copyright © 2017 by Wendy MacNaughton. Published by Simon & Schuster.

Our Summary:

There are books that are meant to help you learn to cook, and then there are books like Samin Nosrat's Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat that make you a better cook.  This modern millennial approach to cooking is designed to make you think about what you're doing in the kitchen and provides a canon of 100 essential recipes that demonstrate the science and understanding behind each.  This is the textbook for every home-cook that is committed to mastering their craft of home-cooking.

Get it: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking, by Samin Nosrat and art by Wendy MacNaughton.  Published by Simon & Schuster April 25, 2017 Hardcover $35.00 (Amazon $21.58; eBook $16.99)

See it:  480 pages with colorful, whimsical illustrations (no photos) of processes and info-graphics.

Make it:  100 essential recipes with variations that put Nosrat's ideas into practice. 

Our Review:

If modern cookbooks bore you with their classic format, well-staged photography and campy headnotes, then you'll be thrilled with Samin Nosrat's Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking.  Fully illustrated (no photographs), millennials will rejoice in a fun, non-stressful approach to learning.  The learning is about how to do better what you already know how to do in the kitchen.  If you love to cook and want to learn something more than a new recipe, or can't get enough of the science behind cooking, then this book is an easy choice.

Written by a self-taught cook (though she learned coming up through some pretty impressive restaurant kitchens), Nosrat's approach is simple:  there are 4-basic elements to master in the kitchen, and by doing so you'll consistently turn out good food with or without a recipe.  The ideas in Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat are certainly not new, but Nosrat has managed to condense the basics behind the seminal work of Kunz and Kaminsky in The Elements of Taste, the learn how-to-cook basics of Peterson's Essentials of Cooking, and the comprehensive repertoire of the Joy of Cooking, all into less than 500 pages.

If you expect a traditional cookbook you'll easily be frustrated.  This is not a pick-a-recipe-and-cook-it kind of book.  In Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat you pick a chapter - a concept.  You study.  You think.  You prepare a recipe and then think some more.  Then you tackle a variation and then, finally, you apply the ideas to your own weeknight repertoire and begin to see results.  If you do this, however, you are hugely rewarded not only in better tasting results, but also with a new way of thinking - about the ingredients you cull together every time you cook a meal, and how to best present them. 

When you are ready to read - really read and learn - from a cookbook, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is a must.  It will work in tandem with every other cookbook you own; you will have the tools to know how to make those other recipes taste even better.  You will become a better cook.  Period.

Published in Donna Marie Desfor

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