Pempek – Fish Cake

Bali News, Denpasar –  ‘Pempek’ or fish cake is a very popular food in Indonesia and is thought to be coming from South Sumatra. All regions in South Sumatra popularize it as special food and believed that Pempek was first produced in Palembang in the 16th century. Pempek is made of grinded fish, wheat flour, sago flour, eggs, salt and water. Usually all the basic ingredients are mixed together and shaped into some different styles such as kapal selam (submarine) or lenjer (stick). After shaping, the raw pempek is boiled under boiling water until it is cooked. Some people would eat them boiled, but some prefer to further fry them so they become crispier. Pempek is normally served with the brown soup made of brown sugar, water, salt and vinegar as well as some other ingredients to make it taste tangy. Some noodles, diced cucumbers and dried prawn are sprinkled on top of it to make presentation looks more appealing.

The terms ‘pempek’ is believed to have come from an old Chinese man who once lived at the bank of Musi river. The tale said, the 65 years old man, who was called ‘apek’ (a term that people used in referring to an old Chinese man in Indonesia) felt horribly sorry to see all the fish captured were not processed rightly so they became rotten and wasted. He then has the idea to preserve it with salt, but thought eating fish all the times would be boring so he came with another alternative of turning the fish into a fish cake. He mixed the grinded fish with sago flour until it results in a new kind of food. The ‘apek’ peddled his bike and tried to sell his new food invention around town. Unexpectedly, people love the taste of it and always wait for the ‘apek’ to come again the next day. Words of mouth transferred fast and when he passed, people would call him “pek…apekk! ” to make him come to their doors. Since then, the fishcake is known as ‘Pempek’. –iu-

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