Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’ve been really improving my cooking by leaps and bounds thanks to America’s Test Kitchen’s books. They make sure recipes are perfect (or as near as can be) in terms of directions, ingredients, etc. They have truly spoiled me to the point that I often hate other cookbooks. But, as my wife says, you’re not truly cooking until you can just look at the ingredients in the house and come up with food on the fly. Or know how much salt the food needs by tasting it. So, after seeing Samin Nosrat’s Netflix show (which shares its name with this book), I added the book to my wishlist.
I received it as a gift and I’m very glad that I did. While it’ll definitely take me a few times of re-reading the first half of the book (the part that talks about how to use salt, fat, acid, and heat in cooking without presenting any recipes) to absorb all the ideas, I’ve already been able to use some of the ideas (particularly around salt) to improve my ability to improvise in the kitchen as well as finally be able to do that enigmatic part that ends most ATK recipes – “salt to taste”.
If you’ve a 100% beginner cook, I still recommend America’s Test Kitchen as the best training wheels you can find. I’m still planning on using my ATK books and getting more because when you’re doing an unfamiliar recipe (say, from another region of the USA or another country) it’s pretty hard to improvise because you don’t know what the platonic ideal tastes like. But if you want to move to the next level, I’d put this near the top of your list by Kenji Lopez-Alt’s The Food Lab (I haven’t read it, but EVERYONE loves it) or McGee’s “red book”.
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