Pempek, mpek-mpek or empek-empek is a savoury fishcake delicacy from Palembang,[1]South Sumatera, Indonesia, made of fish and tapioca. Pempek is served with rich sweet and sour sauce called kuah cuka or kuah cuko (lit. vinegar sauce), or just "cuko". Sometimes local people also add yellow noodles for variations. 


Pempek dough is made from a mixture of boneless ground fish meat, most commonly tenggiri (wahoo), with water, salt and sago flour. People sometimes add a little bit of cooking oil and/or wheat flour to improve texture and not to make the pempek too chewy and to add MSG to enrich the umami taste. Ikan gabus (snakehead) is also commonly made as pempek. Numerous pempek sellers and producers in Palembang use a cheap combination of fish, which has a strong scent. According to tradition, the best tasting pempek are made of belida or belido (Chitala lopis), but due to its rarity and superior taste, pempek made from this fish are usually more expensive.[ The dough is boiled in hot water or steamed until hardened as partly cooked dumplings, and stored to be fried later just before serving.

Variants of Pempek

Pempek kapal selam (submarine pempek)

Which is made from a chicken egg wrapped within the pempek dough and then deep-fried. The shape is similar to Chinese dumplings but larger in size. According to food science and technology scientist, the pempek kapal selam, with egg addition, is rich in protein, fat, vitamin a, mineral,and carbohydrate content, is the most nutritious variety.[6] The name derived from the shape of pempek that resembles submersible midget submarine.

Pempek telur kecil (small egg pempek)

filled with egg similar to pempek kapal selam, but smaller in size.

Pempek lenjer (long cylindrical pempek)

its shape is similar to sausages.

Pempek keriting (curly pempek)

the dough is made into small noodle ball. This similar process also applied to produce white krupuk.

Pempek pistel

the shape and size is similar to pempek telur kecil, but filled with minced young papaya instead.

Pempek kulit (skin pempek)

fish-skin pempek, the dough is mixed with minced fish skin, as the result it has stronger fishy aroma and darker color.

Pempek adaan

ball shaped pempek.

Pempek tahu

tofu sliced and filled with pempek dough.

Pempek Tunu (charcoal-grilled pempek)

It is stuffed with ebi, sweet kecap sauce and chilli sauce.

Pempek model (Model Iwak) / Tekwan

tofu wrapped inside pempek dough. Similar to pempek kapal selam, but egg is replaced with tofu. Instead of served with cuko, it is served in shrimp soup.
Tekwan: chopped pempek fishcake soup with jicama, mushroom and fishballs.

Celimpungan / Laksan

Celimpungan: small pempek balls cooked in spicy coconut milk, served with chilli and sprinkled with bawang goreng (fried shallots).
Laksan: often referred to as Palembang style pempek in laksa soup, sliced pempek fishcake served in coconut milk based soup.


omelette with mixture of sliced pempek fishcake, also served in kuah cuko.

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