Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: The Elements of Good Cooking


At The Nashville Food Project, we are continually looking for opportunities to learn from and with one another as we go about our work. So it’s not surprising that some of our staff and volunteers decided to read and get together to discuss a book on the elements of good cooking: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat. And, of course, it’s been a great reason to get together and share a meal!

Our review? Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is your gateway to being able to cook without a recipe! It breaks down the processes that take place in your kitchen every single day, making it so easy to understand what is happening with your food and why. With it's beautiful illustrations and straightforward explanations, it's a quick and interesting read that will change the way you think about cooking -- and the way your food tastes -- through use of four elements (you guessed it!): Salt, Fat, Acid, and Heat. It also has an incredible index filled with kitchen basics, cooking how-tos, and recipes.

Here’s some of the things we took away from each chapter:

FullSizeRender (3).jpg

“The thing that has been the biggest takeaway for me is the idea of salting from within. Whether salting pasta water, creating osmosis in boiling veggies or denaturing meat by salting early before cooking, salt plays such a vital role and has many dynamic qualities in all of its uses. My food is forever changed!” - David, St. Luke’s Meals Manager


FullSizeRender (2).jpg

“Find an olive oil you love, store it out of the light and heat, pay attention to the production date, and use it quickly (because it doesn’t take long for it to go rancid!). I also learned you’re should heat your pan first and then add your oil.  You can test with a drip of water for pan readiness.” - Cheri, Volunteer


FullSizeRender (1).jpg

“I learned the most in the acid chapter.  The other 3 elements are all things that I consistently taste and adjust for but learning to taste for acid has improved my cooking immensely! I've been adding splashes of vinegars, lemon juice & even wine more frequently and love the results.” - Christa, Meals Director



“Look at the food, not at the heat source! That means looking for sensory cues (sizzles, spatters, steam, browning…) rather than obeying a set time at a certain temperature. I always thought about heat in cooking as the oven or the burner, but also learned to pay attention to the temperature of the food itself.” - Grace, Impact Manager


Have you read it? Tell us what you think!

FullSizeRender (4).jpg