Josh Pyke – kitchen spy

Musician Josh Pyke in his home kitchen. Photo: Lisa Maree Williams

ARIA award-winning musician Josh Pyke learnt to cook as a teenager and by the time he was 15, he was cooking twice a week for his family. “Initially, it was all based around mince: meatloaf, spaghetti bolognese or meatballs.” Since marrying his Vietnamese-Australian wife, Sarah Tran, Pyke finds he has taken a decidedly Asian direction in cooking. “I just find it’s really quick and healthy,” he says, adding that the cuisine style is perfect for juggling work with raising the couple’s two young boys, Archer (5) and Augie (2). When he’s not busy recording in the family’s inner west home studio, Pyke likes to brew beer. In fact, look out for The Summer, a beer collaboration with Newtown brewer Young Henrys named after his 2008 song and released to coincide with his January national tour. His latest studio album is But For All These Shrinking Hearts.

The staples 

My pantry

My wife makes me toasted muesli every week, which is a really lovely, nurturing thing, and it’s delicious: dried mango, coconut oil, almonds and rolled oats. We always have Knorr​ liquid seasoning, which is like soy sauce, but is super delicious on Vietnamese food and goes with everything. I’ve recently become a big fan of [Essential Ingredient] truffle oil (we eat a lot of boiled eggs with the kids); we always have a massive bag of rice and nori, because the kids love sushi.

My fridge

Some of the more interesting things we have are fermented tofu paste, which is really delicious in a dish with Chinese water spinach. We always have Chinese sausage (I didn’t even know it existed until I was dating my wife), which is amazing in fried rice; a selection of cold cuts for sandwiches; and I always have a stinky cheese. Today it’s a washed-rind Val D’Armance.

Secret vice

I love single-malt whisky. I’ve got a good selection here (five in the house and three or four in the studio). I try not to do it every night but I’m a big fan of post-apocalyptic TV shows, so I might have a dram while catching up with The Walking Dead.

Last meal at home 

Chicken drumsticks marinated in honey, garlic and Knorrs seasoning. I pack them in tightly in a glass oven dish and bake for 1.5 hours at 200C. We served them with steamed rice and broccolini.

I’m drinking

I don’t drink a lot of wine – I don’t like white and red isn’t good for singing – but I’m a pretty avid home brewer, which I did a lot when I was younger and started again a couple of years ago. And I do drink a lot of craft beers. There are some great local breweries around here, like Batch Brewing in Marrickville.

My toolkit

When I make ribs, I love having coleslaw, so I use my [Zyliss] mandolin (great for making crunchy, fresh fennel salads, too). We’ve got a pretty good Japanese [Global] knife set and there’s our Sunbeam coffee grinder, which I did some research on a few years ago. It’s great to be able to adjust the grind as the coffee beans get older.

My inspiration 

I’m inspired by what we have in the pantry and the fridge. We have a lot of cookbooks, because Sarah used to work in the publishing industry, but I rarely use them. One of the best, though, is Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Companion. You can almost read it as a novel, with each recipe telling a story from the garden to the plate.

Favourite 

A collection of Japanese ceramic cups that my wife and I got on our honeymoon in Japan, along with some awesome hand-beaten silver teaspoons. I use them every day and they remind me of all the things I’ve got to be grateful for.

Most unforgettable meal

My first date with my now wife. We both worked at these shops in Balmain, picked up a pizza and then drove over to Bronte Beach in Sydney. It pretty much changed the course of my entire life. The pizza itself was pretty average.

Recipe stalwart

My barbecue pork ribs. I do a dry rub (brown sugar, onion and garlic powder, celery seeds, toasted and smashed fennel seeds, cayenne pepper, toasted and smashed oregano, thyme and rosemary and salt), leave them overnight in the fridge, then cook in foil on the barbecue for an hour. At the end, I baste them on the grill with a homemade sauce (onions, garlic, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, fresh green herbs, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne and pepper).

Discovery

Carbonation drops. They allow you to accurately put the right amount of sugar into each home-brew bottle – you get perfect carbonation every time.

For more photos, and to read the story originally published on good food.com.au, click here..