Cookbook Club

Why We Haven’t Been Using Enough Salt (+ a Recipe Challenge!)

September  8, 2017

Samin Nosrat has literally written the book on mastering the elements of good cooking with her debut cookbook, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. Our Cookbook Club will be making its way through the New York Times bestselling book all throughout September, and we hope you'll join us. We're making our way through her four lessons, one element at a time, so we can all explore them together in our own kitchens. Last week we started with salt and this week we're moving on to fat.

Read on to take in this week's lessons on fat, learn about how we've applied the salt lessons, and find out what recipes Samin is challenging the group to make:

lessons on fat

Earlier this year we held a Kitchen Confidence Camp and worked through the four essential elements of cooking found in Nosrat's book, along with writer, Caroline Lange. This week we're revisiting the lessons on fat, so you can participate in the Club even if you don't have a copy of the book just yet.

salt learnings

Last week's lessons were on salt, and our main takeaway seemed to be that none of us had been using enough salt.

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When making the Pork Braised with Chilies, Deborah Elliott discovered:

When I first tasted the strained sauce from the pork it tasted really bitter and then I remembered that Samin said if you add salt it moderates I continued to add salt and taste until it surprisingly transformed! It was now spicy, smoky and delicious. My husband couldn't get over the how the flavor changed without it tasting salty. So fun!

Tracy Graham shared what happened when she worked on salting correctly for smashed potatoes:

I salted the water as I usually would and let it boil instead of adding in the potatoes while the water was cold. This way I was able to taste the water. While it tasted of salt it did not remind me of the sea. So I salted some more. The potato tasted pretty good right out of the water, but I salted some more. It seemed like so much salt... but it came out seriously tasty. I thought I was careful with salt... apparently, I was too careful!

Emmy Tompkins' pasta has been forever transformed:

Since reading the Salt section my pasta has been much tastier. I always have put salt in pasta water but apparently not enough.

Challenge recipes

Spend any time at all in our Facebook group and you’ll quickly pick up that it’s fun to see all of the different dishes everyone makes. It's fun to feel like we're cooking together, too—that’s where recipe challenges come in.

We have 3 recipe challenges this month, straight from Nosrat herself, that can be made separately or all as a part of one meal:

  • Avocado Salad Matrix (page 217)
  • Buttermilk-Marinated Roast Chicken (page 340)
  • Almond and Cardamom Tea Cake (page 414)

It is, of course, optional to participate, but if you're interested in joining the recipe challenge, please wait to post your photos and reviews until Sunday, September 17. On that day, share them on the Club’s Facebook page and Instagram (using our hashtag #f52cookbookclub).

Psst: Didn’t know about our Cookbook Club? Head here to get up to speed on how to participate.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.

1 Comment

soosie September 16, 2017
Years ago come celebrity chef was asked for the main difference between home cooking and restaurant food. He said that home cooks use less than half the salt as restaurants. Since then I have cooked with lots of salt. Yum!