I bought this mainly for guidance with salt. The author provides some vaguely useful information along these lines, most notably a chart illustrating salt ratios per pound/quart with different varieties of salt.
From there, the recipes are mostly useless, not telling the reader exactly how much salt to use. Don’t tell me to salt to taste or salt generously - TELL ME EXACTLY HOW MUCH FRICKIN’ SALT TO USE.
And I don’t see how this is relative or situational. I have NEVER been to a restaurant that asked me “How much salt would you like for us to put in your entree,” which leads me to believe that if a professional chef already has a given recipe in mind, they probably already know exactly how much salt they’re going to use to satisfy a typical restaurant customer. TELL ME THAT EXACT AMOUNT. Teach by example!
Demystifying the Art of Cooking
Working from the premise that an understanding of four basic elements - Salt, Fat, Acid, and Heat - provides the foundation of good cooking, Samin Nosrat describes how the four elements combine with each other to create different flavor palettes.
If you’re a fan of Harold McGee and/or J. Kenji Lopze-Alt, you’ll enjoy Samin’s book. It might even be difficult to not rush off to the kitchen and explore what you’ve just learned.
Wendy MacNaughton’s illustrations add a touch of humor, but also a visual reference (for example, her ‘pesto pie chart’ showing the ingredients of a pesto sauce, from which you can then vary ingredients and flavors).
Good, but some issues with the science
I haven't completely read through the book yet. I like so far the main points of each passage, but, as a scientist, the blatantly incorrect details of the science behind the cooking kind of ruins this book for me. Denaturing a protein doesn't cause proteins to more tightly coil and squeeze out water, it loses all secondary structure and clumps together, leading to shrinkage and water loss. Osmosis isn't the movement of water from less concentrated to more concentrated, it's the opposite.
These details kind of ruin Nosrat's authority on the subject for me. I was excited for something akin the "The Food Lab," but it's obvious Nosrat knows very very little of the details actual food science.