“Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat” was a book written by Samin Nosrat, and there was a series released on Netflix about the book. There are four episodes (one for each subject) and they each go in depth about the different subjects and talk about the history, uses, and culture behind them all. It really is an amazing documentary for anyone, but especially anyone who is interested in cooking.
These four topics salt, fat, acid, and heat truly are the fundamental needs for cooking.
When we think of salt we just think of the typical table salt that sits on our kitchen tables or our cabinets. But there really are so many other places to find it like soy sauce, miso, plants, or fish. Not only are there different sources of sodium but the flavor of salt is different all over the world. Himalayan pink salt is much different then sea salt. Salt is was brings out the flavors of the food. When cooking with salt every dish will need a different amount, it will never be the same.
Fat is what adds richness to the food. Adding texture and all the different flavor profiles that food has. Fat can be found in both animal and plant products, both lard and coconut oil are two different sources of fat. Not only how much oil you use but also what oil you use can effect your food in different ways. Bacon fat will give you the amazing crispy egg, to much will over whelm the palate with an oily coat but to little won’t give you the crunch. Olive oil and pine nuts gives us the delicious rich pesto, to much will again coat the palate in oil but to little and we won’t get the rich earthy flavor we want from our pesto.
Acid can balance, enhance, or add to the flavor profile in the dish. It also has the ability to actually cook the food, like the fish in ceviche. When we cook we use opposites to really bring the dish to life. If something is to acidic we are something sweeter.
Fire is what makes us human. What separates us from monkeys and lions. Our bodies have developed over time to only except meat that has been cooked. Heat is what cooks the food and in many cases adds or enhances flavor. In things like salsa or cured meats we like that smoky flavor that comes when fire is added to the equation. Without heat we wouldn’t have a lot of the foods we have today.
What salt I use:
- Regular sea salt: I use sea salt the most just because it is so versatile. I can use it for cooking as well as baking.
- Liquid aminos: I use aminos in place of soy sauce because it is better for you. I use it for both cooking veggies or in a salad.
- Miso: I use miso mainly for soups but it is also great in sauces and with veggies. When using miso the best may to add it to something is by mixing it with a little hot water and mix until it is dissolved in to the thin paste.
What oils I use:
- Coconut: I use coconut oil for a lot of things. I use it for sweet and savory dishes. I do tend to use it mostly when cooking a dish like sautéed apples or veggies.
- Olive: olive oil is probably my second most used oil. I use it for anything I can’t use coconut oil for. Things like salad dressing and bread as well as sautéing. The only thing I will not use olive oil for is sweets.
- Sunflower: I like sunflower oil because the taste does not over power the dish if it is sweet or savory, cooked or not cooked.
- Avocado: the taste of avocado oil is different, so it does not fit everyone. Avocado oil is one of the healthier fats and is great for the skin.
don’t forget there are so many oils out there that are great for different things. I just named a few.
What acids I use:
- Lemon/lime: I like lemons and limes for cooking and baking. It is probably one of the best known acids to add to food.
- Vinegar: I love vinegar. Just wanted to put that out there. I use vinegar when cooking, making salads, and even sometimes baking to help something rise. My go to vinegar is apple cider because of the health benefits and I like the way it taste (I also like to infuse it into a fire cider or add other herbs for more flavor). My next go to vinegar is balsamic, which I like to put on salad.