Indonesian Fish Cake / Pempek Recipe

Pempek is another traditional food from Indonesia. It originated from Palembang, but now has spread to other regions. It has turned into an icon of Indonesia. It is quite reminiscent of meatballs. Well, they both use similar ingredients. However, the primary ingredient of pempek is fish. It is not random fish. There are several kinds of fish that the locals usually use to make pempek. The reason why it should be made of certain fish is because it affects the firmness of the batter.

pempek recipes

It is pretty chewy, which has to do with the type of flour used. The fishcake makes a perfect snack to eat during the leisure time. The fillings are similar to meatballs, such as tofu, eggs, and shrimps, but you can also add papaya if you will. The cooking process is not complicated at all. You can start by combining all the types of flour. Make a batter and insert the fillings in the end. After that, divide the dough into several pieces and bring them to a boil. Another thing that makes pempek feel special is the sauce. It is locally known as cuko and tastes a little sour.

Pempek ingredients:

  • 300 gr fish, skinned and grounded
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 200 gr sago palm flour or tapioca flour
  • 100 g wholewheat flour
  • 5 eggs, beaten in a bowl
  • 100 ml warm water

Cuko sauce

  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 thai chilies
  • 100 gr palm sugar
  • 25 gr tamarind
  • 400 ml water
  • Slices of cucumber

pempek recipes 2


  1. Combine fish, salt, and water in a bowl. And then slowly pour sago palm flour into the mixture. It can be replaced with another type of flour that creates a chewy texture. Tapioca flour is a good example. Add wheat flour and stir the mixture until it is evenly mixed.
  2. The batter should have good consistency before you shape it. Shape it oval and create a hole right in the middle that is big enough to accommodate the beaten eggs. Seal the hole tightly using the batter.
  3. Heat a pan over medium heat. Add water before it becomes quite hot. You will need to boil the dough. When the bubbles start to rise to the water surface, put the dough into the pan. The dough or pempek will float when it is properly cooked. The mixture can usually be divided into 2 or 3 smaller pieces.
  4. Take them out and drain.
  5. The next step is to make the sauce. Grind the chilies and garlic into a paste.
  6. Place a pan over a medium heat, add some water and put the mixture into it. Bring it to a boil. When the sauce is boiling, you can add the palm sugar because it will break down faster in high temperature environments.
  7. Keep stirring until the palm sugar turns into liquid. Add tamarind and let it cool to room temperature. Strain the mixture to make sure the sauce is clean without pulps and seeds.
  8. Serve pempek with the sauce in a bowl. Garnish it with cucumber slices.

It is quite easy, right? There are a few variations of pempek recipes, but they are all made of fish. They just contain different fillings and have slightly different tastes.

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