Image of ridiculously good, charred-up, lemon-dense potato salad courtesy of Serious Eats
Samin Nosrat, star of the Netflix series (and author of the same-named book that launched it), Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, cooks the way I aspire to one day. She internalizes techniques and flavors and ideas from cultures around the world, and then creates dishes where the stars are (wait for it…): salt, fat, acid, and heat. I mean, what more could you ask of a dish.
I know some people who don’t like salty foods, either because of high blood pressure, an aversion to powerful seasoning, or a sweet tooth that rejects everything except confetti cake.
I know some people who don’t like fatty foods, either because oily! greasy! ew! or calories. Not me.
I know some people who don’t like acidic foods, because heartburn! tooth enamel! stomachache! Not me.
I’m not sure I know anyone with a complete aversion to cooked foods—heat applied—save for a coworker I had who only ate raw carrots. We called him Bugs and Watership Down, alternately, which he first thought was a knock on his teeth, but eventually figured out was just a knock on his taste.
But, regardless of what anyone else does, I like all of these things, often all at once. Imagine, if you will, an amazing steak, crusted with kosher salt and freshly-cracked pepper, seared to a char, deliciously pink on the inside, with a knob of lemon-herb butter melting down the sides like lava.
Did that gross you out? Probably some of you. No one I’m married to, fortunately.
My dear husband, in the way dear husbands do, left a question in the comments of this post: what are your (my) three favorite ingredients to cook with, and why?
I wanted to say, SALT! FAT! ACID! but those aren’t specific ingredients, per se… they’re what ingredients bring to the table.
Wait, wait, salt is specific.
So I’ll say that: SALT!
I like to say that I’m high in sodium, because I love salt! All kinds of salt! Regular old iodized table salt, kosher salt, sea salt, Maldon crystals (smoked and not), sel gris, fleur de sel, Hawaiian salts, smelling salts <faints>, accidentally swilling ocean water, you name it. I also like salty condiments like soy sauce and fish sauce, and salt-bearing brine-y things like capers and pickles. I believe in seasoning at every step, including the finish of a dish.
I even like adding salt to my desserts because my sweet tooth is a baby tooth under the pillow of life compared to the giant tiger fangs of SALT!
Here are three of my favorite salty recipes:
Which brings me to one of my favorite things to put salt on? POTATOES.
There are 19 Irish jokes to make at this juncture, but man: I love a potato.
Baked. Twice baked, even. Hasselbacked. Come at me, potato, and bring your chives.
Boiled. Toss those kids with some butter or good olive oil, and shut the front door! Because everyone is coming in to take your potatoes.
Roasted. The more charred, the better. With duckfat. And salt you rub together with fresh thyme.
Salad-ed. I believe that people who make a bad or tasteless potato salad are like people who make bad or tasteless movies: sometimes rich, but still asshats.
French-fried. Belgian fries. Poutine. Garlic fries at Safeco Field. If you shook me awake in the middle of the night to offer me a plate of fries, I would accept, once I was done whacking you with my husband’s Mag-Lite, by the side of the bed.
Totted-up. Friday night is burger night at our house, and burger night means TOTS! Sometimes I make a horseradish aioli for them, because I’m interesting.
Tarted-up. Au gratin? AUKAY!
Doesn’t matter what you do, unless what you do is give me under salted, slightly chilly McDonald’s fries. Then I hope you accidentally close your finger in the drive-through window (of course, not to any real peril, just a blurted curse word after asking a customer, “What can I get you?”)
Get you some potato recipes:
Which brings us to…
My third ingredient? LEMON.
I eat lemons straight-up. That’s not great for your teeth. But I’ve been eating them like oranges since I was little and I was enthusiastically cognizant of people being horrified by my choices.
I also use lemons to flavor, to dress, to marinate, to pickle, to preserve, to char, to wedge, and as a life rule, to make lemonade.
I love limes, too, especially in salsas and salad dressings and margaritas and ceviches. But lemon is my OG (original garnish?)
Here are some favorite lemon-centric recipes of mine:
That brings us to the end of my first answer post… and the end of my patience for not currently having the potato salad in the picture above.