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Savory Indonesian Traditional Fish Skin Cake from Palembang. Authentic Recipe of Pempek Kulit.

Things to know about Pempek Kulit Recipe

This famous Indonesian dish locally known as pempek originated in the South Sumatra capital city of Palembang. Along with tekwan, pempek is one of the most beloved fish dishes in the country. Historically, pempek was first invented by a Chinese immigrant that entered Palembang in the 16th Century, during the reign of Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II of the Palembang-Darussalam Sultanate. Based on a local folk story, in the year 1617, an old Chinese man (apek is the common word in the region) become tired of the usual way of cooking fish, like frying, grilling, and stewing. He lived in the Musi Riverbanks, where fish was very abundant. He tried a new way to cook fish, and that is by combining tapioca flour and ground fish meat, and thus, pempek was created. The name pempek is thought to originate from the old Chinese man that often sells the dish by going around on bicycles.

There are many different types of pempek, but generally, it is made out of the same ingredient, tenggiri or Spanish mackerel as its meat is soft and easy to cook. The most popular variants of pempek include the lenjer, which is shaped like a long tube and often served sliced into coin-shaped pieces. Other than lenjer, the uniquely named kapal-selam (submarine) is also very popular, which is an extra-large pempek usually filled with a whole egg inside, and is shaped like—you guessed it, a submarine. Other variants include adaan; a ball-shaped pempek, kulit; which used the mackerel skin as its main ingredients, and keriting; which is curly-shaped. Either way, you would not want to miss out on this dish!

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Savory Indonesian Traditional Fish Skin Cake from Palembang. Authentic Recipe of Pempek Kulit.

Local Recipe Name with Local Characters: Pempek Kulit
User submitted Recipe
5 from 1 vote

— General Atributes of This Recipe:

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


Servings 12 Pieces
Calories / Serving 97 kcal


Pempek Dough

  • 100 grams (3.53 oz) Spanish Mackerel Fillet
  • 150 grams (5.29 oz) Spanish Mackerel Skin
  • 100 grams (3.53 oz) Tapioca Flour
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 1 pc Egg
  • 1 stick Spring Onion – Scallion – Green Onion
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp White Sugar – Regular Sugar – Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Ground White Pepper Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Powder
  • 10 grams (0.35 oz) Medium-Protein Wheat Flour
  • 100 mL (3.38 floz) Water
  • 1 pc Cucumber
  • Dried Shrimp Powder – Ebi To taste
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Vinegar Sauce (Cuko Hitam)

  • 4 cloves Garlic
  • 6 pcs Green Bird’s Eye Chili Pepper
  • 200 mL (6.76 floz) Water
  • 30 mL (1.01 floz) Tamarind Juice
  • 150 grams (5.29 oz) Palm Sugar – Palm Jaggery
  • 1/2 tbsp White Sugar – Regular Sugar – Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp Dried Shrimp Powder – Ebi
  • 1/2 tsp Salt


Pempek Dough

  • Chill the meat and blade beforehand.
  • Blend the chilled fish meat and skin in a food processor.
  • In a bowl, combine the fish-skin paste with minced garlic, egg, sugar, salt, pepper, and baking powder. Mix well.
  • Into a small saucepan, add the water and the medium-protein wheat flour, cook into a slurry and add it to the fish mixture.
  • Add the tapioca flour and mix until the dough is soft and does not stick to the spoon/hand.
  • Dust your hand with tapioca flour, and shape the dough into a disk, repeat until all dough is formed into a disk.
  • Prepare a wok, and add enough oil to deep fry. Bring it to heat.
  • Fry the pempek in medium heat until cooked and crispy. Strain and set aside.

Vinegar Sauce (Cuko Hitam)

  • In a sauce pan, add all the ingredients and stir well.
  • Bring it to a boil and cook until the sugar is dissolved
  • Strain the sauce. Set aside.


  • To serve, take one pempek and slice it into quarters.
  • On a serving plate, add the cucumber. Place the pempek on top of them.
  • Pour over a generous amount of cuko hitam.
  • Top off with dried shrimp powder.
  • The dish is ready to be served!


Pick a fresh fish and skin to prevent any unwanted fishy odor.
There are a lot of pempek forms and variations, like the kapal-selam (submarine), adaan (round shaped), keriting (curly), kulit (fish-skin), and many more. We will learn to create other types of pempek in another recipe!
Cut the fish fillet into a smaller size to help the food processor blend it.

— Specific Atributes of This Recipe:


Calories: 97kcalCarbohydrates: 21gProtein: 2gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0.2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 355mgPotassium: 46mgFiber: 0.1gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 13IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 14mgIron: 0.4mg
Keyword Indonesian Traditional Fish Skin Cake, Pempek Kulit Recipe
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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