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Review

"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."
  ― NPR.org

"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." ― Atlantic

"Inventively illustrated...ambitious...[Nosrat is] a talented explainer." ― Wall Street Journal

"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

"Hundreds of cookbooks are published each year. Some are good. Others are exceptional. A few are essential. Samin Nosrat just published “Salt Fat Acid Heat — Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking” and I daresay this one is essential...That’s the fabulous thing about this book — it teaches readers about cooking, how to employ various techniques, and how to grasp that any subtle variations in technique can have significant impacts upon our end results. It is possible to learn how to cook great food...This book is bound to become an indispensable addition to cookbook shelves throughout America." ― Dayton Daily News

"Nosrat’s beautiful, approachable book demonstrates how these four are the only elements necessary to make delicious meals anywhere, any time." -- Rapid City Journal

"Provides the cook with far more tools for branching out and exploring their own creative potential - and that makes it a standout." ― Midwest Book Review

"An excellent cookbook and culinary resource that pares down the idea that it only takes four ingredients to make food taste amazing." ― Belleville News-Democrat

"The kind of cookbook that will certainly make anyone who reads and absorbs all of her shared food tidbits a better cook and, perhaps, an engaging conversationalist." ― Chicago Daily Herald

"The cookbook, with its instructive recipes and playful illustrations by Wendy McNaughton, is an enjoyable and approachable culinary master class." ― San Francisco Chronicle

“With 100 tempting recipes and vibrant illustrations by Wendy MacNaughton, this textbook offers insight, encouragement, and a new path to culinary mastery.” ― Real Simple

"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

"[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." ― Eater

"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." -- Vox.com

"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." ― Wired.com

" 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. ― Saveur.com

"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." ― Heathlyish

"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." ― PureWow

“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." ― BonAppetit.com

“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

"Simplicity and knowledge and beautiful drawings. This book is approachable and inspiring and lays a strong, strong foundation -- Joy The Baker

“Wonderfully illustrated by Wendy MacNaughton, author Samin Nosrat''s exuberant-but-exacting cooking style comes through and is shared generously...It will instruct, cajole, delight, encourage, inspire, and motivate anyone who is even slightly interested in cooking. And it will make better cooks of those of us who are already spend a decent amount of time in the kitchen.” ― The Kitchn

"Beautifully illustrated and super informative." ― Mic.com

"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." ― Verily

"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

"Ever wish an acclaimed, professional chef would reveal the building blocks of great cooking? Well, here you have it. Chef and writer Samin Nosrat got her culinary start at Chez Panisse restaurant and has schooled scores of people, including author Michael Pollan, on how to cook. Now she’s distilling her approach for us all." -- EyeSwoon

"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

"From these four strands, the former Chez Panisse weaves a wholly original —- and highly idiosyncratic —- book, half of which is instruction, half recipes. The two-page spread on pasta alle vongole, for example, is both “a lesson in layering acids” and an exacting recipe. The whimsical but hardworking illustrations, by Wendy MacNaughton, are every bit as original."
  ― Newsday

"[Nosrat] writes with great wit. We need more cooks like her."
  ― Minneapolis Star Tribune

"A thorough but engagingly intimate graduate course in the four most transformative tools in the cook’s arsenal. Understanding how the elements of a dish aid in its metamorphosis equips cooks to make the most of any ingredients. Its thoughtful explorations make it impossible to read without becoming a better cook."
  ― Buffalo News

"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."
  ― Elle.com

"With Nosrat’s sharp insights and Wendy MacNaughton’s playful illustrations as a guide, the readers of this book will develop essential cooking instincts."
  ― Mental Floss

"Genius!" ― Rachael Ray Every Day

"Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is like going to culinary school through the pages of a book, learning from a really fun, smart, and brilliant teacher who imparts kitchen wisdom to last a lifetime. Once you read this special cookbook, your confidence level in the kitchen will skyrocket."
  ― Omnivoracious

"This book is basically a bible for novice chefs."
  ― Hello Giggles

"An approach to food science that''s both accessible and entertaining."
  ― Shelf Awareness for Readers

"The perfect tool for ushering the culinarily curious but timid into the world of badass home cooking."
  ― Vice Munchies

"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."
  ― Rumpus

"The best cooking primer since Julia Child’s famous tomes."
  ― KQED.org

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 PeachBon Appétit, AFAR Magazine, and elsewhere. She is the back page columnist for  The  California Sunday Magazine.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat
Growing up, I thought salt belonged in a shaker at the table, and nowhere else. I never added it to food, or saw Maman add it to food. When my aunt Ziba, who had a well-documented taste for salt, sprinkled it onto her saffron rice at the table each night, my brothers and I giggled. We thought it was the strangest, funniest thing in the world. “What on earth,” I wondered, “can salt do for food?”

I associated salt with the beach, where I spent my childhood seasoned with it. There were the endless hours in the Pacific, swallowing mouthful after mouthful of ocean water when I misjudged the waves. Tidepooling at twilight, my friends and I often fell victim to the saltwater spray while we poked at anemones. And my brothers, chasing me on the sand with giant kelp, would tickle and taunt me with its salty, otherworldly tassels whenever they caught up to me.

Maman always kept our swimsuits in the back of our blue Volvo station wagon, because the beach was always where we wanted to be. She was deft with the umbrella and blankets, setting them up while she shooed the three of us into the sea.

We’d stay in the water until we were starving, scanning the beach for the sun-faded coral-and-white umbrella, the only landmark that would lead us back to Maman. Wiping saltwater from our eyes, we beelined to her.

Somehow, Maman always knew exactly what would taste best when we emerged: Persian cucumbers topped with sheep’s milk feta cheese rolled together in lavash bread. We chased the sandwiches with handfuls of ice-cold grapes or wedges of watermelon to quench our thirst.

That snack, eaten while my curls dripped with seawater and salt crust formed on my skin, always tasted so good. Without a doubt, the pleasures of the beach added to the magic of the experience, but it wasn’t until many years later, working at Chez Panisse, that I understood why those bites had been so perfect from a culinary point of view.

While bussing tables during the first year I worked at Chez Panisse, the closest I usually got to the food was at tasters, when the cooks made each dish for the chef to critique before service. With a menu that changed daily, the chef needed tasters to ensure that his or her vision was realized. Everything had to be just right. The cooks would tinker and adjust until satisfied; then they’d hand over the dishes to the floor staff to taste. On the tiny back porch, a dozen of us would hover over the plates, passing them around until we’d all had a bite of everything. It was there that I first tasted crisp deep-fried quail, tender salmon grilled in a fig leaf, and buttermilk panna cotta with fragrant wild strawberries. Often, the powerful flavors would haunt me throughout my shift.

Once I developed culinary aspirations, Chris Lee, the chef who’d eventually take me under his wing, suggested that I pay less attention to what was happening on the porch during tasters, and more to what was happening in the kitchen. The language the chefs used, how they knew when something was right—these were clues about how to become a better cook. Most often, when a dish fell flat, the answer lay in adjusting the salt. Sometimes it was in the form of salt crystals, but other times it meant a grating of cheese, some pounded anchovies, a few olives, or a sprinkling of capers. I began to see that there is no better guide in the kitchen than thoughtful tasting, and that nothing is more important to taste thoughtfully for than salt.

One day the following year, as a young cook in the prep kitchen, I was tasked with cooking polenta. I’d tasted polenta only once before coming to Chez Panisse, and I wasn’t a fan. Precooked and wrapped in plastic like a roll of cookie dough, it was flavorless. But I’d promised myself that I would try everything at the restaurant at least once, and when I tasted polenta for the second time, I couldn’t believe that something so creamy and complex could share a name with that flavorless tube of astronaut food. Milled from an heirloom variety of corn, each bite of the polenta at Chez Panisse tasted of sweetness and earth. I couldn’t wait to cook some myself.

Once the chef, Cal Peternell, talked me through the steps of making the polenta, I began cooking. Consumed by the fear of scorching and ruining the entire humongous pot—a mistake I had seen other cooks make—I stirred maniacally.

After an hour and a half, I’d added in butter and Parmesan, just as Cal had instructed me. I brought him a spoonful of the creamy porridge to taste. At six foot four, Cal is a gentle giant with sandy-blond hair and the driest of wits. I looked expectantly up at him with equal parts respect and terror. He said, in his signature deadpan, “It needs more salt.” Dutifully, I returned to the pot and sprinkled in a few grains of salt, treating them with the preciousness I might afford, say, gold leaf. I thought it tasted pretty good, so I returned to Cal with a spoonful of my newly adjusted polenta.

Again, a moment’s consideration was all he needed to know the seasoning was off. But now—to save himself the trouble and time, I imagine—he marched me back to the pot and added not one but three enormous palmfuls of kosher salt.

The perfectionist in me was horrified. I had wanted so badly to do that polenta justice! The degree to which I’d been off was exponential. Three palmfuls!

Cal grabbed spoons and together we tasted. Some indescribable transformation had occurred. The corn was somehow sweeter, the butter richer. All of the flavors were more pronounced. I’d been certain Cal had ruined the pot and turned my polenta into a salt lick, but no matter how I tried, the word salty did not apply to what I tasted. All I felt was a satisfying zing! with each mouthful.

It was as if I’d been struck by lightning. It’d never occurred to me that salt was anything more than pepper’s sidekick. But now, having experienced the transformative power of salt for myself, I wanted to learn how to get that zing! every time I cooked. I thought about all of the foods I’d loved to eat growing up—and that bite of seaside cucumber and feta, in particular. I realized then why it had tasted so good. It was properly seasoned, with salt.

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Customer reviews

4.8 out of 54.8 out of 5
17,098 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Lisa Loo
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Awesome cooking book, lots of humor and visuals.
Reviewed in the United States on December 12, 2017
I bought this as a gift for my sister. I flipped through it extensively when it came in. I love it so much I am going to buy 2 more - one for a friend and one for me! I am a very visual person and the pictures in here are awesome. I love that they aren''t photos, but rather... See more
I bought this as a gift for my sister. I flipped through it extensively when it came in. I love it so much I am going to buy 2 more - one for a friend and one for me! I am a very visual person and the pictures in here are awesome. I love that they aren''t photos, but rather hand-drawn-looking pics done in a watercolor way. I love the recipes that are full page visuals. There is lots of humor throughout. Make no mistake though, this is a cooking book, NOT a cookbook. It is teaching methods and how-to techniques. Yes, there is a section in the back third of the book with recipes to apply all you have learned. I love everything about this book. Can''t wait to really dive into my copy. I highly recommend it.

Note: Like many people, I rely heavily on Amazon reviews before purchasing anything, online or brick-and-mortar. Because of this, I am very honest when reviewing products. If I love something, you''ll be the first to know. And if I hate it, I''ll tell you that too. I try to be thorough to help people make informed decisions before buying new products. If you''ve found my review helpful, please click Helpful below. Thanks! :-)
2,965 people found this helpful
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Hassan
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Theoretically exceptional, but scientifically lacking
Reviewed in the United States on November 24, 2018
Disclaimer: I have not read the entire book yet, updates to follow ASAP. This is an amazing concept for a "cookbook", and I absolutely love the setup and flow of the text. It keeps me engaged by presenting information concisely, but manages not to be dry or... See more
Disclaimer: I have not read the entire book yet, updates to follow ASAP.
This is an amazing concept for a "cookbook", and I absolutely love the setup and flow of the text. It keeps me engaged by presenting information concisely, but manages not to be dry or overwhelming.
I was so sad to find a pretty glaring scientific error at the very beginning of the book in the section entitled How Salt Works (subsection Cooking Foods in Salted Water, pg 35-37). I have a lot of sympathy for typos and grammatical errors as they don''t typically effect my comprehension of the subject matter, but this was a more serious problem with the science being presented. Specifically, Ms. Nosrat has conflated salt (NaCl) with all minerals, and presents the idea that salting cooking water enough will prevent osmosis of nutrients and minerals from inside whatever is being cooked into the water. Le Chatelier''s principle dictates that osmosis over a permeable barrier (like the skin/flesh of a green bean) occurs when there is an imbalance of a particular mineral or compound, ergo, the only thing adding NaCl potentially prevents is leeching NaCl, Na, and Cl. Other minerals and nutrients will freely pass out of your food and into the water as easily as they do in unsalted cooking water. Steaming and other cooking methods might mitigate this issue as exposure to water is limited, however, I expect these processes might yield similar results if food is cooked to the same extent. The way we account for this nutrient loss, in reality, is by eating more of a given cooked food than we would its raw counterpart, which is what cooking allows us to do by physically breaking foods down!
I hope this is the only error of it''s kind because it is quite confusing and misleading, but I''m not at all confident that I could discern a similar future error. I gave the book 3 stars simply because of my skepticism of the underlying science and the authors understanding. I guess we just have to take it with a grain of salt. ;)
759 people found this helpful
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erika serow
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Want to love it but ...
Reviewed in the United States on September 11, 2017
I want to love this book. The first half is interesting, even for experienced cooks. And then you get to the recipes. The section is a mess and seems like it bypassed the editing table. The text will often reference bolded recipes, not all of which can be found in the... See more
I want to love this book. The first half is interesting, even for experienced cooks. And then you get to the recipes. The section is a mess and seems like it bypassed the editing table. The text will often reference bolded recipes, not all of which can be found in the book; reference page numbers are wrong, and the index does silly things like list a text reference under "tart dough" but a recipe under "Aaron''s tart dough" - which is helpful if you can remember Aaron but that''s not really the point. Illustrations - which are lovely - in some cases contradict text and/or recipe ''matrices'' (cf: onions or no in a beet and citrus salad?). Of course the whole point of the book is that you don''t need strict recipes to follow - and I love that notion plus the very clever flavor wheels that talk about logical combinations - but this book reads like it was made to be hyperlinked, and if you''re trying to follow a paper version I find it endlessly frustrating.
1,027 people found this helpful
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Michael Sherrillo
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
This should be everyone''s first cookbook
Reviewed in the United States on August 1, 2017
This was an excellent, excellent book. I read it cover-to-cover over the course of about two weeks. Despite a lifetime of mediocre-to-occasionally-excellent cooking, this definitely upped my game by giving me these 4 simple touchstones to examine each dish and ingredient... See more
This was an excellent, excellent book. I read it cover-to-cover over the course of about two weeks. Despite a lifetime of mediocre-to-occasionally-excellent cooking, this definitely upped my game by giving me these 4 simple touchstones to examine each dish and ingredient through. When it comes to the science, it''s a little light, and some aspects differ from other books in minor ways. The Food Lab is better suited for someone who is more technically minded and wants a better understanding of the "why, and show me your data" kind of answers to the kitchen. But if you are looking for first principles to get started cooking, or to kick up your habits and meals and the lense through which you''ll view them, then this is THE best combination of education, recipes, and reference guides.

If you get one cookbook, get this one (!!!). If you get two, get this and The Food Lab (...or if you need four, then also get McGee''s On Food and Cooking & Cook''s The Science of Good Cooking). But THIS is the book you NEED!
420 people found this helpful
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Colleen
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Trust you gut and just buy it
Reviewed in the United States on July 18, 2017
*sets down glass of rose that came out of a box* Buy this book. I pre-ordered it when it first came out and, frankly, was overwhelmed by the amount of text. As Samin predicted, I wanted to sneak ahead to the recipes and ignore her warnings to read and re-read part one... See more
*sets down glass of rose that came out of a box* Buy this book. I pre-ordered it when it first came out and, frankly, was overwhelmed by the amount of text. As Samin predicted, I wanted to sneak ahead to the recipes and ignore her warnings to read and re-read part one before moving forward. Over the course of a few months, I''ve picked up this book and casually read sections that piqued my interest. Now I really do feel comfortable in her recipes and I''m following her suggested cooking lessons, which begin with something as "simple" as soaking and simmering beans to achieve optimal saltiness. Believe me, you probably don''t know why you do what you do in the kitchen and this book will prove that. Also believe me, you''re probably not salting your food enough. Pull the trigger; enjoy.
318 people found this helpful
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meme
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
I have never disliked a book on food more.
Reviewed in the United States on February 9, 2020
I dislike literally everything about this book. It''s trying so hard to combine bits of science, personal stories, and cooking, but it feels so incomplete! I know it''s meant to let you experiment, and combine ingredients and techniques to create dishes without a cookbook,... See more
I dislike literally everything about this book. It''s trying so hard to combine bits of science, personal stories, and cooking, but it feels so incomplete! I know it''s meant to let you experiment, and combine ingredients and techniques to create dishes without a cookbook, but it fails miserably at that. Good luck trying a new technique. You would have to flip through the whole book, look in all different chapters for steps, quantities, and still not have the complete picture of how.

It takes little snippets of scientific information, but then veers off into annoying personal anecdotes that are meant to be cute, but contribute absolute zero. The book is extremely wordy, with an obnoxious writing style, and is surprisingly poorly organized, considering there are separate chapters on salt, acid, fat, heat etc. So NOT to the point.

If you want to get technical, read ''On Food and Cooking'' by Harold McGee. If you want technical AND functional recipes to go with scientific explanations in a well-organized fashion, go with ''The Food Lab'' by Kenji Lopez-Alt.
104 people found this helpful
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Pamela
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Best text about cooking I''ve ever read
Reviewed in the United States on April 25, 2017
Best text about cooking I''ve ever read. It''s both logical and fun so the lessons will stick. I''d call it perfectly balanced, like a great meal. After reading the first several pages, I went poking around, only to discover that I was invited back to the beginning (XO). You... See more
Best text about cooking I''ve ever read. It''s both logical and fun so the lessons will stick. I''d call it perfectly balanced, like a great meal. After reading the first several pages, I went poking around, only to discover that I was invited back to the beginning (XO). You see, the book is about the "journey, not the destination." It''s clever, witty, helpful, intuitive, and altogether a pleasure to read.
330 people found this helpful
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pepperminta
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A must have for your library
Reviewed in the United States on April 28, 2017
I just read this cover to cover and felt compelled to write a review. This is really an essential book to everyone''s library. I love to cook and have a beautiful collection of cookbooks, but this one is truly special. Samin is a lovely writer. She exudes warmth and humor in... See more
I just read this cover to cover and felt compelled to write a review. This is really an essential book to everyone''s library. I love to cook and have a beautiful collection of cookbooks, but this one is truly special. Samin is a lovely writer. She exudes warmth and humor in her stories and it flows in such a way that you forget you are reading a combo of a cookbook/science textbook. Samin breaks down the importance of salt, fat, acid and heat. It''s not just recipes but what, why and how. She does not talk down to her readers. She is straightforward, enthusiastic and fun. I''ve always loved the "why" in cooking and baking (like the Cooks Illustrated approach and The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science ) - but I love that she narrows it down to four basic elements. I personally like referring to recipes, especially for dishes I don''t cook on a weekly basis. But this books and others, like Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking are important because they give you the tools to innovate and recipes become starting points. I wish I had this book 20 years ago when I started seriously cooking. It is like a breath of fresh air and incredibly inspiring. So grateful for this addition to my home library and can''t wait to cook dinner tomorrow!
433 people found this helpful
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Top reviews from other countries

Annah
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
MARVELLOUS BOOK
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 5, 2018
This book is FANTASTIC. The best cookbook I have ever bought - and I''ve bought a few......... Samin has a really accessible style of writing and you can''t help but like her as a person. I have enjoyed the stories she tells about her experiences and how she came up with this...See more
This book is FANTASTIC. The best cookbook I have ever bought - and I''ve bought a few......... Samin has a really accessible style of writing and you can''t help but like her as a person. I have enjoyed the stories she tells about her experiences and how she came up with this simple matrix for wonderful tasting food. And it certainly has revolutionised my cooking. What''s more, it''s a great diet book. "Hold on a minute", I hear you cry. Let me explain. If you use this book, you might just find yourself enjoying your food so much that you''ll eat less. The more satisfaction you can get from one mouthful of food, the less you''ll need to eat. This is my own theory and it is working for me. Samin has improved the satisfaction I get from eating and I''ve lost nearly 2 kilos in a month. It''s true. But don''t buy it to lose weight, buy it to rediscover enjoyment in the food you cook and eat. It''s a terrific book. I would happily pay twice the price for it.
81 people found this helpful
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L. Holland
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Patronising and pretentious
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 21, 2018
I had great hopes for this book and generally love cooking and recipe books but this one leaves me cold. It does go into a lot of fairly tedious and obvious detail about the basics of using salt and which fats to use and which flavourings etc - all info that would be...See more
I had great hopes for this book and generally love cooking and recipe books but this one leaves me cold. It does go into a lot of fairly tedious and obvious detail about the basics of using salt and which fats to use and which flavourings etc - all info that would be obvious from general knowledge or from just reading the recipe. Some recipes look interesting though and I will try them . It feels very geared to the US market too .not for me.
53 people found this helpful
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Moley
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Not for Kindle
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 21, 2018
The information in this book is excellent. Well written, pleasantly readable, packed with information .... BUT I bought it on Kindle. It has loads of diagrams which I suspect are really useful in a full sized book, but just can''t be read in Kindle. If you want to understand...See more
The information in this book is excellent. Well written, pleasantly readable, packed with information .... BUT I bought it on Kindle. It has loads of diagrams which I suspect are really useful in a full sized book, but just can''t be read in Kindle. If you want to understand your cooking, get this book in paper format.
47 people found this helpful
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FunkMaster
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Insightful book for the passionate cook
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 21, 2018
A must have book for a serious cook. It covers topics that no other book I have come across covers. I just have over 200 cookbooks and I value the information in this one the most
35 people found this helpful
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Camomillla
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
INSPIRING BUT NOT FOR ME
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 15, 2019
Inspiring and charming, really make you appreciate the beauty of food and cooking. Being from Italy and a very conservative cook, I disagree with some of the recipes (for example I NEVER mix onion and garlic in a tomato sauce) - for me the best tip in the book was adding...See more
Inspiring and charming, really make you appreciate the beauty of food and cooking. Being from Italy and a very conservative cook, I disagree with some of the recipes (for example I NEVER mix onion and garlic in a tomato sauce) - for me the best tip in the book was adding salt at the soffritto level if making a sauce or a soup as it really makes a difference. There is no time quoted and the recipes have too many steps for me.
20 people found this helpful
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