Samin Nostrat wants you to cook better, and it all comes down to mastering the four fundamentals of salt, fat, acid and heat.
Netflix’s latest food show, Salt Fat Acid Heat, released earlier October 2018, explores what Nostrat refers to as the ‘holy grail’ elements of cooking. The four-part series combines captivating scenography with gorgeous imagery of food from different, yet familiar parts of the world.
What makes the latest foodie show different from the plethora of food docu-series we have seen already – Chef’s Table, Ugly Delicious, Cooked – is exactly that, ‘familiarity’. On Salt Fat Acid Heat you won’t see glorified exotic ingredients or chefs dropping hints on the impossible dishes that they create, nor is it going to show you a group of guys bonding over tripe and beers at some offbeat diner you will probably will never visit.
Nostrat wants you to master the elements, to understand them and to have knowledge you can directly apply to your own cooking. She does this by presenting ingredients and foods we often overlook in the kitchen.
Following the format of Nostrat’s book by the same name, each episode of the four-part show takes one of these elements and associates it with a different place.
For “Fat”, she goes to Northern Italy where olive oil, pork fat and cheese help her understand how fat brings flavours together in the Italian dishes that we all love, she also learns to make regional dishes such as focaccia and pesto. For “Salt”, she is in Japan to learn about sea salt taken from sea weed, to understand miso, and to listen to fermenting soy sauce as she discovers the disappearing art of traditional soy sauce production. In the “Acid” episode she is in Mexico tasting sour oranges, salsas and extracting Mayan honey from bees. Finally, in “Heat” she comes back to her home in Berkeley, California, where she makes roasts and crispy rice with her mother.
Nostrat uses her experience as a food writer and her 17 years of cooking experience (four of which were at Alice Waters' Chez Panisse) to dig behind the science of cooking and the tips and ideas shared in the series are useful for home cooks and pro-chefs.