This is part of the series “Bitesized Insights: Books in under 5 Minutes”, where I summarise books worth your time.
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The book in one paragraph:
SALT FAT ACID HEAT by Samin Nosrat will teach you the fundamental principles of cooking. This is not a book about recipes or step-by-step instructions. Instead, you will learn the mechanics and workings behind any recipe. This book will help you to actually think about cooking rather than just executing steps.
Oh and you will learn that you cannot just melt butter if a recipe asks for room temperature butter. That alone is worth the read if you care for the results of your baking.
What are my
3 4 key take-aways?
- Salt has the single biggest impact on the flavour of your food. It's one of the true flavour enhancers that will greatly improve how the rest of the flavours in your food taste. Pepper on the other hand is a spice, not an enhancer. Pepper will alter the flavour of your food.
- Fat plays three different roles: it can be a main ingredient, a cooking medium or seasoning. Besides adding and enhancing flavour, its most important role is to provide the desired texture of your food.
- Acid is the great balancer. It offers contrast to the other ingredients and grants your palate some relief from otherwise one-dimensional flavour experiences.
- Heat transforms food. To understand it, it's essential to know what you're after, not what temperature a recipe suggests. For the most parts, it's about the balance between the interior and exterior of your food. Eggs that have runny yolks but set whites. Steaks that browned and charred outside, while the inside is juicy but sufficiently cooked. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches that are crispy outside and chewy on the inside. Anyone else hungry now?
Who would I recommend it to?
Everyone who loves cooking and wants to get better at it. People who want "First Principles" and seek to understand why a recipe tells them to do a certain thing.