Pempek Palembang is one of Indonesia’s most popular culinary delights. This food made from fish and sago flour originates from South Sumatra and has become a culinary icon of the city of Palembang. The savory taste of the fish, the chewy texture of the flour, and the spicy and sour cuko sauce make pempek a dish that is very popular with various groups. In this article, we will discuss in depth how to make authentic Palembang pempek, starting from selecting ingredients, the manufacturing process, to tips and tricks so that your pempek is perfect.


A Brief History of Pempek Palembang

Before we start with the manufacturing process, let’s explore a brief history of Palembang pempek. It is said that pempek was first made by a Chinese descendant named Apek in the 16th century. He mixed the ground fish meat with sago flour, then formed it into small balls. This food became known as “apek” which over time changed to “pempek”. Over time, pempek has experienced various innovations in its forms and variations, but still maintains its delicious distinctive taste.

Pempek is famous for its chewy texture and savory taste. The manufacturing process involves processing fresh fish mixed with other ingredients such as sago flour, salt and selected spices. After the dough is formed, pempek is usually boiled or fried, then served with spicy and sour cuko sauce. This unique combination not only reflects its long history as a traditional Palembang food, but is also an inseparable part of Indonesia’s culinary richness which continues to develop to this day.

Ingredients Required to Make Pempek

To make authentic Palembang pempek, you need to prepare quality ingredients. Here is a list of required materials:

  • 1 kg fresh mackerel fish, crushed
  • 500 grams of sago flour
  • 250 ml ice water
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fine garlic

For the cuko sauce:

  • 500 ml of water
  • 250 grams of brown sugar
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 10 red bird’s eye chilies
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ebi, roasted and pureed

Steps for Making Palembang Pempek

After preparing the ingredients, let’s start the process of making Palembang pempek. Follow these steps carefully to get the best results:

1. Basic Dough Preparation

The first step in making pempek is to prepare the basic dough. Start by mixing the mashed mackerel fish with salt, sugar and finely ground garlic. Stir well until all ingredients are mixed well. Then, add the eggs and ice water little by little while continuing to stir. This process is important to ensure the mixture is not too runny or too thick.

After that, start adding sago flour little by little. Knead the dough with your hands until it is smooth and not sticky. Make sure all the ingredients are mixed well and the dough has the right texture – not too soft or too hard. If the dough feels too dry, you can add a little ice water. On the other hand, if it is too wet, add enough sago flour.

2. Boiling Process

After the pempek is formed, the next step is boiling. Prepare a pan filled with sufficient water, then boil it. Once the water boils, carefully add the pempek one by one. Boil the pempek until it floats, this indicates the pempek is cooked. This process usually takes around 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the pempek.

Once cooked, remove the pempek and drain. Let it cool and the water doesn’t drip anymore. At this stage, the pempek can be served or the frying process can be continued to get a crispier texture on the outside.

3. Frying Process (Optional)

If you want pempek with a crunchy texture on the outside, you can fry it. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Fry the pempek until golden yellow and crispy on the outside. Lift and drain.

4. Make Cuko Sauce

Cuko sauce is an inseparable complement to Palembang pempek. To create it, follow these steps:

  • Puree the garlic and cayenne pepper.
  • Boil water with brown sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Add ground spices, roasted and mashed ebi, salt and vinegar. Stir well.
  • Cook until it boils and all ingredients are mixed perfectly.
  • Remove and strain the cuko sauce to get the right texture.

Serving and Enjoying Pempek Palembang

Pempek Palembang is usually served with cuko sauce, fresh cucumber slices and yellow noodles. The way to enjoy it is to cut the pempek into sizes that are easy to eat, then pour it with cuko sauce. Add cucumber slices and yellow noodles according to taste. Some people also like to add sweet soy sauce to add flavor. Pempek can be enjoyed as a snack, appetizer, or even as a main meal. In Palembang itself, pempek is often used as a filling and nutritious breakfast menu.

Making Palembang pempek may seem complicated at first, but with practice and patience, you will be able to produce delicious and authentic pempek at home. The main key is choosing quality ingredients, the right kneading process, and making the right cuko sauce.
Pempek is not just food, but is also part of Indonesia’s culinary heritage that is worth preserving. By making your own pempek, you can not only enjoy this delicious dish at any time, but also help preserve the culinary delights of the archipelago. So what are you waiting for? Immediately put this recipe into practice and enjoy delicious homemade Palembang pempek with your family and friends!