Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat is a master class in cooking that condenses decades of professional experience into just four simple elements – salt, fat, acid and heat.

The author learned to cook at Chez Panisse and has been hailed as “the next Julia Child” from NPR’s All Things Considered and her mentor Alice Waters has declared that Samin is “America’s next great cooking teacher”.

Samin’s first sentence of her introduction – “Anyone can cook anything and make it delicious.” – sets the tone for this book. There is something magical about this book – it’s content, the incredible illustrations and the wealth of knowledge – all combined will transform us all into kitchen wizards. 

This indispensable tome delivers 100 essential recipes – and dozens of variations – to take the author’s lessons and put them into use to make bright, balanced vinaigrettes, perfectly caramelized roast vegetables, tender braised meats, and light, flaky pastry doughs. All of this information is packaged with 150 illustrations and infographics that will help us understand the world of flavor.

I have always been a good cook and now I believe I am a great cook because I remotely understand the balance of salt, fat, acid and heat – it took me a while to get there by myself and now I am sharpening that knowledge. Salt, Fat, Acid and Heat is on par with the greatness of The Food Lab and will become the teaching cookbook for this generation. I’m predicting you will hear this title repeatedly come to the surface during cookbook award season.

Samin has events scheduled check our calendar to see if she will be in your area. Special thanks to the Simon & Schuster for sharing two recipes with our members. Be sure to head over to our contest page to enter our giveaway for this must-have title. 

Caesar Dressing

Makes about 1 ½ cups

4 salt-packed anchovies (or 8 filets), soaked and fileted
¾ cup stiff Basic Mayonnaise (page 375) (below)
1 garlic clove, finely grated or pounded with a pinch of salt
3 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
3-ounce chunk of Parmesan, finely grated (about 1 cup), plus more for serving
¾ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Freshly ground black pepper

Coarsely chop the anchovies and then pound them into a fine paste in a mortar and pestle. The more you break them down, the better the dressing will be.

In a medium bowl, stir together the anchovies, mayonnaise, garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, Parmesan, Worcestershire sauce, and pepper. Taste with a leaf of lettuce, then add salt and adjust acid as needed. Or, practicing what you learned about Layering Salt, add a little bit of each salty ingredient to the mayonnaise, bit by bit. Adjust the acid, then taste and adjust the salty ingredients until you reach the ideal balance of Salt, Fat, and Acid. Has putting a lesson you read in a book into practice ever been this delicious? I doubt it.

To make the salad, use your hands to toss the greens and Torn Croutons with an abundant amount of dressing in a large bowl to coat evenly. Garnish with Parmesan and freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately.

Refrigerate leftover dressing, covered, for up to 3 days.

Ideal for romaine and Little Gem lettuce, chicories, raw or blanched Kale, shaved Brussels sprouts, Belgian endive.


There might not be a sauce more polarizing than mayonnaise, but I fall firmly in the camp of the devoted. And, as a teacher, I don’t think there’s a better way to illustrate the power of a little kitchen science than by making, breaking, and fixing a mayonnaise with my students. It’s like a little miracle, every time. Refer back to the walkthrough on page 86 for a refresher on all of the nuances of making and fixing a mayonnaise.

When making mayonnaise as the base for a sauce, such as Tartar or Caesar Dressing, leave it unsalted and make it as stiff as possible to account for all the other ingredients you’ll be adding that will season and thin it out. On the other hand, to season a plain mayonnaise for spreading, dissolve the salt in a few tablespoons of water or whatever form of acid you plan to add, whether it’s lemon juice or vinegar. If you add salt without dissolving it first, you’ll have to wait a while for the mayonnaise to completely absorb it before you get an accurate idea of how it tastes. If you choose this route, add salt gradually, stopping to taste and adjust along the way.

To lend a Mediterranean flavor to Aïoli, Herb Mayonnaise, or Rouille you plan to serve with Italian, French, or Spanish food, use olive oil. To make an American-style base to use in Classic Sandwich Mayo or Tartar Sauce, use a neutral-tasting oil such as grapeseed or expeller-pressed canola.

Basic Mayonnaise
Makes about ¾ cup

1 egg yolk at room temperature
3/4 cup oil (refer to page 374 to help you decide what type of oil to use)

Place the egg yolk in a deep, medium metal or ceramic bowl. Dampen a tea towel and roll it up into a long log, then form it into a ring on the counter. Place the bowl inside the ring-this will hold the bowl in place while you whisk. (And if whisking by hand is simply out of the question, feel free to use a blender, stand mixer, or food processor.)

Use a ladle or bottle with a nozzle to drip in the oil a drop at a time, while whisking the oil into the yolk. Go. Really. Slowly. And don’t stop whisking. Once you’ve added about half of the oil, you can start adding a little more oil at once. If the mayonnaise thickens so much that it’s impossible to whisk, add a teaspoon or so water-or whichever acid you’re planning on adding later on-to help thin it out.

If the mayonnaise breaks, refer to page 86 for tips on how to fix it.

Cover and refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days.

Recipe reprinted from Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat with permission of Simon & Schuster and the author. Illustrations by Wendy MacNaughton. 

Add these recipes to your Bookshelf (click the blue +Bookshelf button) – Caesar dressing, Basic mayonnaise

Post a comment


  • sgump  on  June 21, 2017

    My tricks to balancing a dish? Consider what it will be served alongside . . . so maybe I'm thinking about balancing a meal?

  • StaceyR  on  June 21, 2017

    This book looks very interesting, and the format looks very approachable. Since I like to bake, I would probably try one of the cakes, like the Almond and Cardamom Tea Cake (p. 414), first.

  • JulieG1002  on  June 21, 2017

    I am always looking for good reference material. I love food science and am eager to read this.

  • paulabee  on  June 21, 2017

    based on the index, would love to try the sage and honey smoked chicken!

  • FossilGal  on  June 21, 2017

    To balance tomato sauce; if too sweet add salt, if too salty add sugar.

  • Siegal  on  June 21, 2017

    I love balancing heavy with salad

  • DarcyVaughn  on  June 22, 2017

    If a dish seems dull, I usually end up adding lemon juice or other acidic ingredient in very small increments, tasting after each addition.

  • vbprog  on  June 22, 2017

    I'm always looking for new Greek ideas. I would try the Greek salad.

  • lgroom  on  June 22, 2017

    I am a big user of vinegar and lemon — rare is the savory dish, soups especially, that won't benefit from a splash of one or the other.

  • Laura64  on  June 22, 2017

    My husband gave me this book (per my request) for Mother's Day. I have already tried the buttermilk marinated roast chicken – DIVINE!

  • EmilyR  on  June 23, 2017

    I find that virtually everything tastes better and more balanced with a simple squeeze of lemon. It's such an underrated ingredient that I always use and I'm fortunate enough to pick lemons straight from the tree in my yard.

  • joanhuguet  on  June 23, 2017

    Sherry vinegar makes everything pop!

  • kbennall  on  June 24, 2017

    Tricks to balancing – taste at every step! (and it nearly always needs salt and lemon.)

  • PennyG  on  June 25, 2017

    I guess a balance between salty, sweet and acidic.

  • RSW  on  June 25, 2017

    seasoning all along.

  • cocecitycook  on  June 26, 2017

    Taste and season all the time.

  • matag  on  June 26, 2017

    Consider color

  • kelliwinter  on  June 27, 2017

    Taste Taste and Taste again! Never follow a recipe when it comes to seasoning, always go by taste. And only add a little at a time because you can add more but you cannot take it away!

  • lhudson  on  June 27, 2017

    Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli

  • Uhmandanicole  on  June 27, 2017

    My trick to balance a dish is to add a little dark brown sugar, no matter what it is!

  • abihamm  on  June 27, 2017

    I do my best to add complimentary flavors into every part of the meal so all parts blend together.

  • ecosarah  on  June 29, 2017

    I have got to try the Persian roast chicken!

  • elogibs  on  June 30, 2017

    Often dishes need more acid or brightness, so I'll add a good squeeze of lemon or apple cider vinegar. For depth of flavor, some coconut aminos or even a dash of fish sauce add that dose of umami without necessarily giving it that flavor.

  • nandag  on  June 30, 2017

    ack–i have no tricks! this is why i need the book, lol.

  • christineleong  on  July 1, 2017

    This is a must-have for every cook! I can't wait to learn from it.

  • tangaloor  on  July 3, 2017

    Acid salt and fat are great things to try when balancing. The problem sometimes is how to fix having overdone it! Adding more of the others can help but you get to a point.

  • kitchenclimbers  on  July 5, 2017

    taste as you cook

  • annieski  on  July 9, 2017

    I look forward to reading this book. I have it on reserve at the Library. I'm planning on teaching a basic cooking course at our Community College and from the review think the ideas in the book will add inspiration!

  • tarae1204  on  July 9, 2017

    Having flavorful things on hand: fruit vinegars, luscious oils and salts of all colors and origins.

  • klrclark  on  July 10, 2017

    Avocado, beet, and citrus salad My favorite ingredients

  • heyjude  on  July 15, 2017

    Always something new to learn.

  • gjelizabeth  on  July 16, 2017

    One practice for one aspect of balance is keeping a bottle of vinegar and a small spoon with the table seasonings to add a few drops (to taste) to the individual servings of savory dishes.

  • Sofie168  on  July 17, 2017

    I usually balance recipes with something bright/acidic. Reading books like this one helps too!

  • hirsheys  on  July 20, 2017

    I often find myself adding a pinch of sugar to aim for sweet and sour. I like that flavor.

  • betsyp  on  July 21, 2017

    I've been hemming and hawing about getting this book, but you sold me on it. If I don't win it in the giveaway, I'm buying it!

  • okmosa  on  July 24, 2017

    I've read so many good reviews about this book. I'm looking forward to this one!!

  • AnnaZed  on  July 24, 2017

    I like to balance say a red beans and rice dish with a bit of cider vinegar.

  • fiarose  on  July 25, 2017

    i balance a dish by keeping the citrus and the salt at good levels–i find one without the other just doesn't work for me!

  • orchidlady01  on  July 25, 2017

    My tricks to balancing a dish are years of trial and error, following recipes and knowing what tastes good. I like to have varieties of vinegars, oils and salts on hand.

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