What is Pempek?

Papaya can be used as a filling for pempek.

Pempek is a type of small fishcake that originated in Indonesia. It is made by combining ground fish with tapioca flour and giving the dough a specific shape. Stuffing like eggs, papaya, fish skin, tofu or shrimp are sometimes added. Pasta can be boiled, steamed, fried or any combination of these before serving. When not being used as a component in a larger entree, pempek can be served with a type of sweet and sour sauce called kuah cuko and then sprinkled with powdered dried shrimp or served with crispy krupuk, also known as shrimp chips.

Most pempek are boiled in water or steamed until done, a process that can sometimes take an hour or more.

The different ways pempek can be made and the variations in ingredients have their own names. A long log-shaped cake is called a lenjer and a small ball is an adaan. When the dough is rolled around an egg it is known as kapal selam, if filled with tofu it becomes tahu, and when filled with papaya it is called pistel. Many other variations also exist.

Pempek is originally from Indonesia.

The basis of every pempek, regardless of form or eventual content, is dough. One of the main elements of the flavor is the fish used. Traditionally, the fish is one of any local variety, including snakeheads and wahoo, although mackerel is often used outside Indonesia. The meat of the fish is separated from the bones and skin and dried and powdered or ground into a very smooth paste.

See also  What is Pan Mee?

Mix the ground fish, a little ice water and tapioca flour, sometimes mixed with a little wheat flour. The dough is then kneaded until a very uniform and smooth texture is obtained. Unlike some other types of dough, pempek dough must be mixed and kneaded in a way that does not incorporate air into the mix to ensure the final product is heavy and firm.

Some versions of pempek, such as kulit, add additional ingredients, such as diced fish skin, and incorporate them directly into the batter. Other variations, such as kapal selam, wrap the dough around an ingredient, in this case a hard-boiled egg. Whatever the preparation, the dough takes on the desired shape and is ready to cook.

Most pempek are boiled in water or steamed until done, a process that can sometimes take an hour or more. Some varieties, such as kapal selam, are fried in oil. Another option is to parboil or steam the fish cake to cook it, then deep-fry it to create texture.

The traditional way to serve pempek is with kuah cuko sauce made from cane sugar, vinegar, garlic and chili peppers that are cooked in boiling water. The finished dish can be sprinkled with dried shrimp powder or have a small amount of powdered shrimp paste on the side. It can also be used as an element in dishes such as tekwan soup.

Leave a Comment