Recommended Cookbook of the Month: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat
Updated: Jun 9, 2022
By Samin Nosrat
It’s another nerdy book this month and I can say in all honesty about this one that if I was only allowed one cookery book on my shelf - this would be the one I would choose.
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is less of a recipe book and more of a cooking bible. I adore the informal way in which Samin takes you through each of the key elements of cooking whilst relating them to her own personal experiences as a chef. The descriptions throughout provide scientific reasoning without being overwhelming. This book is an absolute goldmine of helpful tips which will allow you to transform the way you cook. If you are a rigid recipe follower it will help you to understand why every individual step is necessary, and if you are a ‘wing it and see’ kind of cook then it will help you to understand what will and will not work. I cannot recommend this book enough for anyone who is even remotely interested in cooking. I haven’t even mentioned the amazing illustrations or handy pull out charts..
Instead of sharing my favourite recipes with you, let me share a handful of my favourite tips I’ve learned from it so far.
Tip 1: Layering flavour is important. If you want saltiness in a dish, don’t just add salt - you will build up a much more complex profile of flavours by introducing salt through multiple ingredients. The example given is of a caesar salad where the saltiness comes from the anchovies, the parmesan and worcestershire sauce. The same goes for any flavour - with acid, you may use lime juice, fish sauce, rice wine vinegar etc.
Tip 2: The importance of acid in a meal is probably the most underestimated of the four tenets Samin describes (at least it was for me before I read it). Acid is needed in a meal to provide contrast and therefore make flavours sing.
Tip 3: Salt your meat in advance (if you can). Salting meat in advance of cooking allows the salt to penetrate the entire piece of meat, not just the surface. This results in much more flavourful meat. It also tenderises the meat, giving it a more pleasant texture for eating. See the book for an expanded explanation of how this works!
If you’re not much of a reader but like the sound of this, lucky for you there is a Netflix series by the same name starring Samin Nosrat herself.