Pempek, or others known as Empek-Empek or Mpek Mpek, is one of signature dishes from South Sumatera, precisely from Palembang Regency. Pempek is typical of fish cake that made of fish meat and tropica powder and spices, and it serve with sweet and sour sauce called Cuko or Cuko, which typical of brown sugar vinegar, that made of brown sugar, vinegar, chilli, garlic and salt. The taste of the sauce must be acidly strong with the taste of sweetness and hotness at the same time.
In one plate of Pempek, we will find a plate full of the Pempek dough that have bee fried and cut in pieces, yellow noddle and the sauce. In some modification there will be chopped cucumber and soy powder for sprinkles.
History said, the early idea of this dish came up during 16th Century, when an old Chinese immigrant settled in at near to Musi River. After noticed the abundant of fishes around the neighbourhood was plentiful and mostly wasted for there was refrigerator at that time, he had an idea to make something by those fishes, beside to consume it in traditional way like indigenous people did, like grilled, fried or boiled. The old man was start to made fish dough and the sauce and he sold around the village with his cart. The people at that time noticed him as Pek Apek, that refered to an old man, in Chinese slang word. Since then, the dish was become popular as mpek-mpek.
There are some variants of Pempek that we can found in the menu. The most popular one is Pempek Kapal Selam. Kapal selam in Bahasa means Submarine, which resemble to the shape of the dish. Pempek Kapal Selam is pempek dough with an egg inside. Other popular variant is pempek Lenjer, which is pempek in long cylindrical shape that similar to sausage. Others are known as Pempek Kulit, Pempek Keriting, Pempek Adaan and more.