Saturday, December 26, 2015

Palembang Trip - Pempek 101 (Pempek for Beginners)

The next morning was a good one. We started our trip with a grande breakfast at 'Pempek 888' at Taman Kenten Palembang. This is another speciality store that sells almost all kind of pempek and other traditional fish-related product from Palembang.

So, let's me explain.

Of course one shall try pempek (fish cake) when visiting Palembang. Hail to the inventor of pempek, whoever he was, for inventing such a brilliant dish. Some stories said that pempek was created the first time by a Chinese immigrant living at the bank of Musi River. He noticed so many fish left to waste if not sold out during the day. Therefore, he created this dish to prolong the lifespan of the fish. And from then since, he sold his fish cake on a wheeled cart. People then referred it as pek-apek and now pempek.

Along the way, the creator of pempek sure got more creative. More and more types of pempek were invented. The most common type of pempek is pempek lenjer, which is the original type of pempek: just plain fish and flour without any filling. The shape is usually small or big cylinder.

Pempek Campur

Other than that, there is pempek telor (egg filled fish cake), which is pempek filled with beaten egg. Upon covering the egg with pempek dough, pempek telor is boiled so that the egg filling becomes solid. Look at the bottom left corner for pempek telor.

Besides pempek telor, you can spot pempek keriting (swirled fish cake). It is essentially the same as pempek lenjer but with different shape. The dough is run over a copper sieve so it comes out of the opening in an elongated shape. The dough is then scooped with spoon to create the shape that you see right now.

At the upmost top of the picture, there is pempek pistel (papaya filled fish cake). This is in my opinion the most unique type of pempek as the filling is stir-fried sliced young papaya. The method of creating pempek pistel is exactly the same as pempek telur.

The ball shape pempek is pempek adaan. The ingredients of making pempek adaan is a bit different as it needs coconut milk and some leeks. Pempek adaan is not boiled but deep fried. After frying, pempek adaan is placed on a big container to be further shaken so as to let it retains the shape.

In the middle of the plate is pempek tahu (tofu fish cake). Half of the pempek is tofu and it is also fried instead of boiled. The dough of pempek tahu is similar to that in pempek adaan. In Singapore, it can be referred as yong tou fu, I guess.

Pempek Kulit ala 888

Pempek kulit (fish skin cake) here is also great and it tastes quite different from the one sold in Pempek Lenny. Maybe that's because some fish meat is used as a mixture to the fish skin here.

Lenggang Goreng

Lenggang goreng is pempek omelette. It is pempek diced into cubes and mixed with scrambled egg. After that it is fried in a frying pan. It is best to be eaten with sprinkles of ebi (dried tiny shrimp) and cucumber.

Pempek Tunu sold by street vendors, usually in front of schools

Pempek 888 also sells pempek panggang (grilled pempek). It is grilled on charcoal griller instead of boiled or fried. Pempek panggang, or people call it pempek tunu, is usually sold by street vendors on a wheel cart. Served hot and filled with ebi (dried shrimp), sweet soy sauce and chilli padi.

The friend of pempek panggang, which is lenggang panggang, unfortunately is not sold here. Lenggang panggang (grilled lenggang) is also grilled on charcoal grilled. The dough is mixed with scrambled egg, poured into banana leaf container, and grilled until everything solidifies.

Pempek Panggang (
Lenggang Panggang, unlike lenggang goreng, is usually square in shape

There is one more thing which is not sold here. It is pempek kapal selam (giant egg pempek). Kapal Selam means submarine. I guess this is due to the size and weight of the pempek that cannot float when boiled. Besides the size, the thing that differentiates pempek kapal selam and pempek telor is the filling. Pempek telor is filled with scrambled egg while pempek kapal selam is filled with literally the whole egg. It needs certain level of advancement for mastering this art. Pempek kapal selam is usually deep fried before serving.

Pempek Kapal Selam needs to be submerged

And of course, all of those pempek shall be eaten with cuka pempek! It's the chilli-brown sugar-vinegar dipping sauce specially made to be the best partner of all kind of pempek.

Other fish products, speciality from Palembang

From the top left corner, there is rujak mie. Rujak mie is a mixture of fried pempek lenjer, fried tofu, egg noodle, glass noodle, cucumber and ebi (dried shrimp), poured with cuka. Besides rujak mie, there is tekwan. It is essentially pempek in bite size that is eaten in shrimp stock soup. At the top right corner, there is model ikan. Model ikan is pempek tahu eaten in shrimp stock soup as well. The bottom right corner shows pangsit ikan. Pangsit ikan is fish dumpling soup. The difference of pangsit ikan with other dumplings is that the dumpling skin is made from the dough of pempek. I bet you can't find it anywhere.

And at the bottom left corner is somewhat special from Pempek 888. It is model gandum. The stock for this soup is made from beef instead of shrimp and model gandum is not made from fish but wheat flour. Model gandum is fried wheat ball immersed in beef stock soup.

As Palembang people is so good in eating spicy food, all these soups come with complimentary chilli paste made of chilli padi. As chilli paste alone is not enough, Palembang people used to pour some cuka pempek into the soup to make it something more Palembang.

If you asked me, I can't choose which one is my favourite because I love all of them equally.

Love is in the air,
Little Feet

No comments:

Post a Comment