Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking (Hardcover)
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*More than 1 million copies sold * New York Times bestseller * Winner of the James Beard Award and multiple IACP Cookbook Awards * Available as a Netflix series *
Transform how you prep, cook, and think about food with this visionary master class in cooking by Samin Nosrat that distills decades of professional experience into just four simple elements—from the woman declared “America’s next great cooking teacher” by Alice Waters.
Featuring more than 100 recipes from Samin and more than 150 illustrations from acclaimed illustrator Wendy MacNaughton!
In the tradition of The Joy of Cooking and How to Cook Everything comes Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, an ambitious new approach to cooking. Chef and writer Samin Nosrat has taught everyone from professional chefs to middle school kids to author Michael Pollan to cook using her revolutionary, yet simple, philosophy. Master the use of just four elements—Salt, which enhances flavor; Fat, which delivers flavor and generates texture; Acid, which balances flavor; and Heat, which ultimately determines the texture of food—and anything you cook will be delicious. By explaining the hows and whys of good cooking, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat will teach and inspire a new generation of cooks how to confidently make better decisions in the kitchen and cook delicious meals with any ingredients, anywhere, at any time.
Echoing Samin’s own journey from culinary novice to award-winning chef, Salt, Fat Acid, Heat immediately bridges the gap between home and professional kitchens. With charming narrative, illustrated walkthroughs, and a lighthearted approach to kitchen science, Samin demystifies the four elements of good cooking for everyone. Refer to the canon of 100 essential recipes—and dozens of variations—to put the lessons into practice and make bright, balanced vinaigrettes, perfectly caramelized roast vegetables, tender braised meats, and light, flaky pastry doughs.
Destined to be a classic, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat just might be the last cookbook you’ll ever need.
With a foreword by Michael Pollan.
*Named one of the Best Books of the Year by: NPR, BuzzFeed, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Rachel Ray Every Day, San Francisco Chronicle, Elle.com, Glamour, Eater, Newsday, The Seattle Times, Tampa Bay Times, Tasting Table, Publishers Weekly, and more!*
About the Author
Samin Nosrat is a writer, teacher, and chef. Called “a go-to resource for matching the correct techniques with the best ingredients” by The New York Times, and “the next Julia Child” by NPR’s All Things Considered, she’s been cooking professionally since 2000, when she first stumbled into the kitchen at Chez Panisse restaurant. She lives, cooks, surfs, and gardens in Berkeley, California. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is her first book.
Wendy MacNaughton is a New York Times bestselling illustrator and graphic journalist whose books include Meanwhile in San Francisco (Chronicle), Pen & Ink (Bloomsbury). The Gutsy Girl (Bloomsbury), and The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Her work appears in publications like The New York Times, Lucky Peach, Bon Appétit, AFAR Magazine, and elsewhere. She is the back page columnist for The California Sunday Magazine.
"Just reading Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat will make you a better cook, adept at seasoning, balancing, understanding what it really is you’re doing and why... Make room on the bedside table—and the countertop."
— Bon Appetit
"I talk about Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat the way people talk about beloved pets or newborn babies; like I was a different person before I read it – and I was. I liked to eat, but hated to cook. I was a huge proponent of what I called "snack dinner," basically whatever I had that didn't require a cooking implement. Samin Nosrat (and illustrator Wendy MacNaughton) set me straight. Together they debunk the concept of recipes, instead teaching you how to build food (and flavor) from scratch and by instinct. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat uses its eponymous guiding principles to chart a very delicious course toward never eating snack dinner again."
“With 100 tempting recipes and vibrant illustrations by Wendy MacNaughton, this textbook offers insight, encouragement, and a new path to culinary mastery.”
— Real Simple
"[This book] will be valuable for either a beginner or a seasoned cook. Unlike similar manuals, Nosrat’s volume has hit upon a theory not only easy to remember, but also fun to learn in practice. Even more fun: the accompanying art by Wendy MacNaughton, which illustrates flavor wheels and pairing matrices."
"My favorite metacookbook...[Nosrat] offers a beautifully simple checklist for ensuring a dish ends up in a good place...This is the book of cooking grammar that so many novices would benefit from...Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is written smoothly and casually, and kept breezy via charming watercolors by the perceptive Bay Area artist Wendy MacNaughton...Nosrat’s book would be of value both to people who don’t consider themselves cooks and to people actively striving to become better ones."
"Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is a refreshing break from [the] contemporary formula. Instantly recognizable as a reference book, Samin Nosrat's definitive technique-driven tome defies convention. This is partly because Nosrat's method of teaching via the book's four main pillars (salt, fat, acid, and heat) is a rarity...But what makes Nosrat's method so effective was her insistence that the book be illustrated.
"A cookbook that will make you a better cook...with helpful, charming illustrations from artist Wendy MacNaughton."
— Boston Globe
"An exhaustively researched treatise on the four pillars of successful cooking."
— New York Times Book Review
"The cookbook, with its instructive recipes and playful illustrations by Wendy McNaughton, is an enjoyable and approachable culinary master class."
— San Francisco Chronicle
"The book amounts to an incredibly engaging master class that helps free you from recipes so you can improvise like a pro. Nosrat’s approach is foundational yet innovative: distilling the essence of cooking into four main concerns. With a full understanding of how each element effects flavor and texture, a home cook can easily extrapolate and apply these principles to unfamiliar ingredients or dishes and still cook with confidence...The curious cook will eventually find her copy of this book stained and dog-eared, as she consults its essential kitchen wisdom for years to come."
— Cooking Light
"In the days after reading Samin Nosrat's new book, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, eating felt like a new adventure...And when it came time to cook simple meals, the raw carrots and greens in my fridge looked less intimidating: I had new tools to tame them...Inspiring this sense of culinary liberation was precisely Nosrat's goal with her cookbook, which eschews formulaic recipes in favor of heartfelt stories, bits and pieces of science, and time-tested nuggets of kitchen wisdom (not to mention gorgeous and witty watercolors by the prolific Wendy MacNaughton)...boy, does Nosrat deliver."
— Mother Jones
"Most cookbooks are filled with recipes, with or without a central theme. That’s what a cookbook is for, right? A recent batch of cookbooks...have turned this notion on its ear, aiming, instead, to better prepare home cooks to build weekly menus and avoid food waste...the best book to come out of this new trend is, to my mind, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by chef Samin Nosrat, with whimsical illustrations by Wendy MacNaughton. The book tackles each topic in its title in turn, showing how they contribute to great cooking, then offers experiments, recipes, and other ways to apply your new knowledge. It’s not just a good cookbook; it’s a good book, period."
"All you need to master the kitchen are the four elements laid out in this Joyfully illustrated book's title. Nosrat, who's been called 'America's next great cooking teacher' by Alice Waters and taught Michael Pollan how to cook, is a more than trustworthy instructor."
— Tasting Table
"If there’s one cookbook that will make dad want to march into the kitchen and start cooking you amazing meals, it’s this one."
"A gorgeously illustrated guide that will make you much more confident in the kitchen."
— Edible Manhattan
"California chef Samin Nosrat explains how these four elements affect everything we cook and eat, then rewards faithful science students with recipes for a perfectly balanced Caesar salad, a flaky pie crust, and fall-off-the-bone braised beef."
— Modern Farmer
"Rarely does a cookbook make you feel like its author is right there in the kitchen with you, teaching you not how to make recipes but how to actually cook."
"NPR once called Nosrat 'the next Julia Child.' Based on her first cookbook, we can see why. The Chez Panisse alum uses a simple philosophy: balancing salt, fat, acid and heat (temperature, not spice) to create a perfect finished product. But recipes aside, the illustrations alone are worth the price."
“You will become a vastly better cook. Learn to balance sweet and acid, choose between different types of fats, understand proteins and heat, etc. It’s all there for the curious, determined cook.”
— Milk Street Magazine
"In the Bay Area, writer and chef Samin Nosrat has cult followings both for her pop-up dinners at Tartine Bakery in San Francisco and her cooking classes, which friends swear have changed their time in the kitchen...This is a new kind of book. Lots of words to live by before you get to her kitchen basics and, finally, recipes more than halfway through. Wendy MacNaughton’s delightful illustrations capture Nosrat’s infectious joy for the subject. Just reading Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat will make you a better cook, adept at seasoning, balancing, understanding what it really is you’re doing and why."
“Readers learn the nitty-gritty science behind best practices, like how to correctly layer salt and how heat affects texture. Enhance your cooking while learning why it's improving.”
— Popular Science
"Beautifully illustrated and super informative."
"Nosrat’s lighthearted approach and whimsical illustrations in Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking will teach you how to make delicious food anywhere with any ingredients, even without a recipe."
"Part textbook (in the best way possible), part master recipe guideline and inspiration. And filled with Wendy MacNaughton’s cheeky hand drawn illustrations. The entire first half of the book is Samin being Samin – an incredible teacher and guide, with infectious enthusiasm for food, good cooking, and good eating. While I consider myself an adept cook, each section was filled with new easy ways to think about cooking – written in a manner that would teach and inspire novice and expert alike. How she *actually* manages to pull this off, I have no idea – this is so hard to do and it’s brilliant. "
— Second Lunch
"Want to be not just a good cook, but a great one? Then this groundbreaking book from Samin Nosrat will help you master “the four notes of the culinary scale” giving you a whole new perspective on how you structure and create a dish."
— Fine Dining Lovers
“This beautiful, approachable book not only teaches you how to cook, but captures how it should feel to cook: full of exploration, spontaneity and joy. Samin is one of the great teachers I know, and wins people over to cooking with real food—organic, seasonal, and alive—with her irrepressible enthusiasm and curiosity.”
— Alice Waters, New York Times bestselling author of The Art of Simple Food
“Everyone was impressed when Michael Pollan managed to summarize the huge and complex subject of what we should be eating in just seven words: ‘Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.’ Samin Nosrat has managed to summarize the huge and complex subject of how we should be cooking in just four words: ‘Salt, fat, acid, heat.’ Everyone will be hugely impressed.”
— Yotam Ottolenghi, New York Times bestselling author of Jerusalem
“Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is a must for anyone wanting to be a better cook. Samin Nosrat, along with Wendy MacNaughton’s fun illustrations, teaches the fundamentals of cooking and dives into the four elements that make food taste great. So do yourself a favor and buy this book. I promise you won’t regret it.”
— April Bloomfield, James Beard award-winning chef and author of A Girl and Her Pig
“Like the amazing meals that come out of Samin Nosrat’s kitchen, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is the perfect mixture of highest-quality ingredients: beautiful storytelling, clear science, an infectious love of food, and Wendy MacNaughton’s powerful art. Nosrat’s prose combined with MacNaughton’s beautiful illustrations are a perfect guide to employing the science of cooking for maximum deliciousness.” —Rebecca Skloot, New York Times bestselling authorof The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
— Rebecca Skloot, New York Times bestselling author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
“Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is a very important book not because it contains many excellent recipes, although it does, or because it is written by a Chez Panisse alum, although it is. It is important because it gives home cooks a compass with which to navigate their own kitchens, and it places trust in them that they will be able to use that compass. Samin’s easygoing, cook-by-feel approach is never condescending or elitist. It is a step towards cooking without recipes and true empowerment (and joy!) in the kitchen.”
— John Becker and Megan Scott, 4th generation stewards of the New York Times bestselling Joy of Cooking
“Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is a wildly informative, new-generation, culinary resource. Samin Nosrat's wealth of experience comes together here in a pitch perfect combination of charm, narrative, straight-talk, illustration, and inspiration. Ticking all the boxes for new and seasoned cooks alike, this book meets you wherever you are in the kitchen, in all the right ways.”
— Heidi Swanson, New York Times bestselling author of Super Natural Cooking
“In this excellent, accessible cookbook, Nosrat leads readers through the cooking process… MacNaughton’s whimsical illustrations, charts, and graphs add to the experience. This exceptional debut is sure to inspire greater confidence in readers and enable them to create better meals on their own.”
— Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Nosrat discovered the secret behind great cooking—not memorizing recipes, but knowing the balance among four key elements: salt, fat, acid, and heat. Nosrat invites readers to learn what it takes to master these components and take their cooking from good to great...MacNaughton's illustrations add a touch of whimsy to the text, highlighting the techniques and skills presented in a clever manner. A fun, educational addition to all collections."
— Library Journal (Starred Review)
"As Nosrat understands, the elements of good cooking couldn’t be simpler. Success in the kitchen depends on just four elements: salt, fat, acid, and heat...Culinary students and serious home cooks can discover from both text and drawings how to succeed through fundamentals of their craft."
— Booklist (Starred Review)
"For those who'd rather wing it in the kitchen than follow a recipe, this book's a great way to learn how to do this with confidence...I loved this book. I mean, I LOVED this book, so much that I couldn't put it down."
— Dallas Morning News
"Chez Panisse veteran Nosrat has reduced her cooking philosophy to her first cookbook’s titular quartet of elements. The book’s core 100 recipes (and scores of variations) form an intuitive tutorial that can be applied to nearly any ingredient in the pantry."
— San Antonio Express News
"In her excellent first cookbook, Nosrat distills what she learned into a manual for intuitive and improvisational cooking, focused on the four key components in her title. In this vital book, Nosrat demystifies the kitchen, explaining in friendly, confident terms why and how salt and fat enhance and build flavor, respectively; the effect of acidity in balancing out a dish; and knowing how to control heat and thus, the finished dish. You’ll be empowered to cook bravely."
— Chicago Tribune
"Beautiful, useful, and filled with illustrations from Wendy MacNaughton, whose prolific illustrations are instrumental in demonstrating the intricacies of cooking."
— Eater SF
"If you're only going to buy one cookbook this year, let it be this so-much-more-than-a-recipe-book by Chez Panisse alum Samin Nosrat and illustrated by Wendy MacNaughton, guaranteed to turn even the most culinarily inept among us into kitchen proficient."
— Rachael Ray Every Day
"This book is basically a bible for novice chefs."
— Hello Giggles
"Salt, Fat Acid, Heat bridges the gap between home and professional kitchens. With charming narrative, illustrated walkthroughs, and a lighthearted approach to kitchen science, Samin demystifies the four elements of good cooking for everyone. Featuring 150 illustrations and infographics that reveal an atlas to the world of flavor by illustrator Wendy MacNaughton, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat will be your compass in the kitchen."