Has anyone else recently discovered the joys of Netflix's new cooking series, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat? Part travelogue, part cooking instruction, it centers around Samin Nosrat, the writer, cookbook author, and former chef at Chez Panisse.
One of the things that makes this show great is Nosrat's endearing enthusiasm. I was so inspired by her attitude that anyone can become a great cook if they're just invested in learning and willing to jump in and try. She makes it clear that there's no shame in not knowing everything, or in not being perfect.
She just makes cooking look so fun.
For anyone else who's been inspired by her infectious can-do attitude and is looking to improve their cooking abilities in fundamental ways, the following books can help!
Nosrat's own book is pretty relevant here, of course!
Mad Delicious and The Science of Good Cooking are both great for learning the basic cooking techniques necessary for understanding how to get the food you want.
Mad Delicious is a super approachable way to understanding the basics (pan cooking, steaming, grilling, etc.) and has helpful explanations for different terms (i.e. what's the difference between sweating and sautéing?).
For further refining skills, The Science of Good Cooking is the next step in your cooking evolution. It covers 50 more specific concepts from "Fat Makes Eggs Tender" to "Gentle Heat Prevents Overcooking."
What makes a pie crust a pie crust? How do you scale recipes? How can you go make your own recipes easily? Ratio looks at— you guessed it!— ratios of ingredients in common recipes. It takes a look at what gives particular foods their unique characteristics and breaks them down to their fundamental elements. Ratio is good for when you have the basics of technique down, but you want to get to gain a deeper understanding and the knowledge to tweak things from there.
When you want to move from the mechanics of cooking and on to flavor, The Flavor Bible and Kitchen Matrix are both great for getting you thinking about flavors that go together and helping with creativity in coming up with your own dishes.