Indonesian Fried Fishcake / Pempek Bulat

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Empek-empek, Pempek, or Mpek-mpek, which ever you want to call this Fried Fishballs is Chris and I favorite. When we were dating, my now hubby used to cook this for me and my roommates in college. It was so good, which make it easy for me to  say "yes" to his proposal. Just kidding. Like my grandma, he is a natural cook and doesn't cook with recipe so I have to stand beside him one day to write down all ingredients and steps while he was cooking this dish.     

A few times in a year, I take my deep fryer out from the garage to cook this or fried meatballs. My boys call them: "golden balls" and it's one of their favorite foods. I like to make a lot because I can use them in my soup as well.  

Indonesian Fried Fishcake Recipe

The process: mix all the ingredients with hands/ wooden spatula then make them into balls using two spoons :Empek empek bulat resep
Indonesian Fried Fishcake Recipe

Resep Pempek Palembang 
After deep frying, let it cools, then enjoy with the sauce, diced cucumber, and boiled noodles.
Sometimes, we take a little step further by slicing the meatballs thin then cook it with scramble egg like omelet then eat with boiled noodle, diced cucumber, and sauce. Pardon the bad picture this was circa 2007 :)Fried Fishballs recipe

Fried Fishballs Recipe
Or just eat them as is

Yield: enough for 8 people

Indonesian Fried Fishcake / "Pempek Bulat"

Indonesian Fried Fishcake / "Pempek Bulat"

Prep time: 20 M Cook time: 30 M Total time: 50 M
chewy savory fried fishcake


  • 4 Shallots - minced
  • 4 tablespoons Fried Shallots
  • 1 stalk Green Onion - sliced thin
  • 1 pound or 450 grams Fish Paste
  • 325 grams Tapioca Flour
  • 3 Tablespoons Coconut milk
  • 2 eggs 
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 50 milliliter water
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
Sauce's ingredients:
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 120 g brown sugar - sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons Minced Garlic
  • 3 pieces Thai Chili  - sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons Sweet Soy Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons preserved cabbage
  • 1.5 tablespoons dried shrimp - minced
  • salt as prefer
Additional ingredients to serve the meatball with:
  • 1 pickle/ cucumber - sliced into small 1x1 centimeter squares
  • Egg noodle and/ or rice noodle, boil
  • Fried shallots for garnish


  1. In a big bowl, prepare cold water mix with salt.
  2. Add in the fish paste, coconut milk, egg, minced shallots, fried onion and green onion, Tapioca Flour. Mix them well - I find it easier to use my hand but use wooden spatula if you prefer
  3. Make them into round shape (like big meat ball) about 1 inch in diameter
  4. Heat the oil in deep fryer. Fry the fish balls until golden or 'till cracked (about 8-10 minutes).
  5. Ready to be served with the sauce
Preparing the sauce:
  1. In a bowl, mix in vinegar, salted cabbage, garlic and sliced chili. Marinate for at least 2 hours
  2. Boil water with sliced brown sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved, add the above mixture
  3. Add the salt, dried shrimp and sweet soy sauce and continue stirring until cooked
  4. Adjust the taste as prefer.
Optional next time:
  1. We often sliced the meatball and cook it with egg like omelet
  2. Serve with boiled noodles/ rice noodles
  3. Garnish with the diced cucumber and fried shallot
  4. Enjoy with sauce

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