How far will ‘Salt, Acid, Fat, Heat’ go in Piglet Tournament?

The Herald’s cookbook reviewer takes a look at the books competing in this year’s Food52 contest.

“Dinner: Changing the Game” by Melissa Clark is in the first bracket of this year’s Piglet Tournament. (Simon and Schuster)

“Dinner: Changing the Game” by Melissa Clark is in the first bracket of this year’s Piglet Tournament. (Simon and Schuster)

Each year, food blog, recipe source and cookbook creator Food52 hosts a tournament of cookbooks released the previous year. This competition is named The Piglet.

Eighteen cookbooks face off March-madness style and one is crowned the winner. The Piglet kicked off March 5 and will run until a winner is announced April 20.

Each week, The Daily Herald will feature two of the 18 contenders, along with a recipe for you to make a judgment for yourself. Follow along with The Piglet Tournament of Cookbooks at

This year’s tourney opened with two popular cookbooks from 2017: “Dinner: Changing the Game” by New York Times food columnist Melissa Clark and “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking” by chef, teacher and writer Samin Nosrat.

“Dinner” offers a visual and tasty way for home cooks to make the most of an often daily drudge of getting dinner to the table. We need things quickly. We need the food to fit picky eaters’ palates. We need something that will provide tasty leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch. Clark is an artist at providing just this. An easy and welcoming cookbook, “Dinner” might even help you out with breakfast, lunch and snacks in between.

Beautifully illustrated “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat” is the culmination of 17 years of cooking and five years of writing. Nosrat started in the kitchens of Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse and followed this with a career of cooking and teaching at Tartine Bakery in San Francisco. She is credited with teaching author Michael Pollan to cook. Well ordered and infinitely useful, “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat” is an opus worth owning.

Here’s a recipe from the book I chose — “Salt, Acid, Fat, Heat” — to survive this face-off. Much of the book is comprised of instruction and traditionally written recipes, but with the Caesar salad, it’s a lesson in cooking by taste and intuition. Also, given the recipe’s artistic presentation, a lesson in cooking with visual aids. Steady your bowl with a damp dish towel wrapped around the base. You’ll need a whisk and a strong arm here.

Caesar salad

1. Start by preparing all your salty ingredients: Grate a chunk of parmesan cheese, pound 3-4 anchovies, pound 3 cloves of garlic with a pinch of salt, keep salt at hand, remove cap from Worcestershire sauce.

2. Make a stiff, unsalted mayo (recipe follows).

3. Work in each salty ingredient a little at a time. Then add lemon and vinegar. Then taste. Now stop. Needs salt, right? But what else? More anchovy? More parm? Add some. Now taste again. Maybe add a little more Worcestershire. Taste again. Keep repeating this ‘til it all tastes just right, adjusting with actual salt as needed. Then, once you’ve nailed it, dip some lettuce in for a final taste. Perfect. Toss with crispy lettuce and torn croutons.Top with parm and pepper to taste. Eat.


1. First things first! Measure out the right amount of oil and eggs. The golden ratio for mayo: 1 egg yolk to 3⁄4 cup oil, and make sure the egg and the oil are the same temperature. So you’ll want to leave the egg out of the fridge for a bit, or you can run it under some water.

2. Put the yolks in a bowl and start whisking, adding one drop of oil at a time. Once you have added 1⁄2 the oil and it’s feeling pretty solid, add the rest a little faster. If it gets so thick it’s hard to whisk, add a few drops of water or lemon juice. After all the oil is added, taste. Need salt? Add some. Taste again.

— Recipes adapted from “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat” by Samin Nosrat reprinted with permission from Simon and Schuster.

Talk to us

More in Life

The all-new Kia Sportage X-Pro model comes standard with all-terrain tires and 17-inch matte black off-road wheels. (Kia)
2023 Kia Sportage has two new models aimed at the outdoorsy

The X-Pro and X-Pro Prestige have all-terrain tires, all-wheel drive, and all kinds of ground clearance.

Women came from all over the Pacific Northwest to “glamp” and raise money to send girls to Girl Scout Camp from Sept. 16-18. The next opportunity to glamp at Camp River Ranch will be Sept. 8-10, 2023. (Jennifer Bardsley)
Women’s glamping retreat raises money to send local girls to camp

I’ve been the camper, the counselor, the Girl Scout leader and the mom. Now, I was the glamper.

People stroll along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, one of Europe’s most interesting historic walks, as Edinburgh Castle looms in the distance. (Rick Steves' Europe)
Edinburgh, the cultural heart of Scotland, packs a cultural punch

Once a medieval powerhouse, it is today one of Europe’s most lively and festive cities.

Dan Neumeyer peers out the window of his Hummingbird Yurt. (David Welton)
Otherworldly structures constructed on Whidbey Island

The small buildings — yurts, with a Western twist — were built by Earth dweller Dan Neumeyer.

Abelia 'Edward Goucher' (Richie Steffen)
Great Plant Pick: Abelia ‘Edward Goucher’

This shrub blooms from summer to late autumn, which will make the pollinators happy.

Making your own WM truck costume takes only a few supplies and can be recycled when you’re done with it. (Courtesy Waste Management)
Green is the new orange: sustainable Halloween celebrations

Spooky season is here: costumes line the shelves at department stores, and… Continue reading

This quilt features an American flag with 36 stars, indicating that it was made about 1865. Most antique quilts are harder to date.
Tips for estimating an unsigned vintage quilt’s true age

If you can see dark spots in the quilt when held up to a strong light or sunny window, they may be cotton seeds. Some collectors claim that this means the quilt was made before the invention of the cotton gin in 1793.

Even if you haven’t watered your landscape in the past 100 days, or watered very little, get outside and give your plants a good soak. (Getty Images)
It’s dry out there, so water your yard — please!

After 100 days of no precipitation, your garden badly needs a drink. So grab a hose and get to work — it’s well worth the slightly higher water bills.

Mark Hall, center, and Casting Crowns perform during the Dove Awards on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo / Mark Humphrey)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Casting Crowns performs in Everett, while Graham Nash drops by Edmonds.

Most Read