Cooking shows are the ultimate escape. Watching chefs create and eat is so satisfying, and in that regard, Salt Fat Acid Heat is no different, yet it also stands in a league of its own.
DIRECTOR: Caroline Suh
Award-winning author Samin Nosrat takes viewers on a journey through the four building blocks of a great dish.
Award-winning author and New York Times columnist Samin Nosrat, whose cookbook has the same name as the show, takes viewers on a food journey to explain the building blocks of a great dish: salt, fat, acid, and heat.
The binge-able four episodes (for each element) whisk viewers off to ltaly, Japan, Mexico, and California, using sweeping imagery to demonstrate why each element is important to a perfect dish. At the end of each episode, Nosrat cooks and shares a meal on location, making viewers wish they were there. Think Parts Unknown with more educational flair.
Let’s break down the four elements:
Salt. “It makes food taste more like itself—learn to use it well and your food will taste great,” Nosrat says. Japan, surrounded by the sea, opens viewers’ eyes to how sea salt is made and how many varieties of salt exist (4,000 just from Japan). Nosrat notes that we’ve likely been under-seasoning our food, which makes this episode especially important. The episode wraps with a Japanese-inspired braised short rib with elements of salt worked in. Come for: The various styles of salt and umami. Stay for: the Tai Meshi.
Fat. Texture, taste, magic. Nosrat takes the viewer to Italy. “Italians use fat to make their food … impossibly delicious,” she says. From olive oil, to fat within meat, to dairy, it’s an essential component. Nosrat lived in Italy to eat her way through the country and understand its cooking. She makes cooking a large Italian meal, including homemade pasta, look impossibly easy. Come for: the homemade focaccia. Stay for: the beautiful aging parmesan.
Acid. Acid is necessary to balance flavors. We head to Mexico’s Yucatan region, “the citrus belt of Mexico.” Nosrat uses this episode to explain the pH scale before cooking outdoors and dining in an envious setting. She also tastes the rare melipona honey, which comes from stingless bees and has a distinct, sweet and sour flavor. Come for: the fluffy and acidic citrus Pavlovas. Stay for: the precious melipona bees.
Heat. Nosrat takes us back to California and the restaurant that started it all for her, Berkley’s Chez Panisse. She goes shopping, preps, and cooks a meal where she expertly incorporates the four elements to make a mouth-watering, yet simple meal. Nosrat even cooks tahdig with her mother for a sweet moment. Come for: Nosrat’s adorable mother. Stay for: the show’s inspiring ending.
Salt Fat Acid Heat is distinctly its own, and Nosrat is an absolute delight. Her passion for cooking is palpable and makes the viewing experience all the more enjoyable. I found myself smiling at her reactions as she tasted everything. She isn’t afraid to eat the food (both the separate elements and the sum of its parts) she is working with, a simple yet important skill that all cooks should make a habit. “Food doesn’t have to be complicated to be delicious,” Nosrat says throughout the show. From taste to texture, she makes viewers feel capable of applying her knowledge and advice to their at-home cooking.
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