Palembang Culinary Trip

Palembang, as some of you may know, is the capital of Indonesia’s South Sumatera province. The city was also the capital of the old Sriwijaya kingdom that long ago encompassed the whole island itself, as well as other regions such as Java island and Malaysian peninsula.

The city is considerably prosper, and rich with oil and mineral. Before, the city’s prosperity was due to the wide river Musi that stretched across Palembang, dividing the city, and is now adorned with the Ampera bridge that is a pride for the Palembang people. It is from this city that my mother comes from – and this is where I went last weekend. Firstly for my cousin’s ‘family proposal’ to his (now) fiance, and foremostly for the culinary trip!!

The first thing to eat in Palembang is pempek (read: pek-empek), a soft and chewy fish cake made from belida or tenggiri (mackerel) fish. It is usually eaten with a sweet and spicy dark soya-vinegar sauce – very special in taste! Pempek itself has different variety – lenjer, adaan, kapal selam and many others.

the cuka - dark soya vinegar
pempek kapal selam - with egg in the center
pempek adaan - round and tasty

Besides pempek that you eath with the cuka, a similarly made fish cake can also be eaten with soup. There are several dishes that you eat with a clear soup – tekwan, model, burgo, celimpungan – to name some of the most famous. All is made with the fishcake, only the fish cakes are made with different techniques and slightly different spices. All is just as tasty – and cater different culinary tastes!

model - with oat fish cake

Now, one of the best companions to eat pempek is es kacang merah (read: as kachang mera) – red bean ice!! The most famous es kacang merah in Palembang is Es Mamat, a hawker stall near Lapangan Hatta. Mamat is the name of the guy who owns the es kacang merah recipe and the stall, and is now very famous. Even Mr. Presiden SBY also orders from him, so he said… 🙂

And then… besides these delicious food, Palembang also has lots and lots of jajan pasar – small sweet cakes that are usually sold in the traditional market. Early Sunday morning, my mom and I went pasar Cinde (Cinde market) in the city, and bought some of the snacks. These are two of my favorites – that you cannot find elsewhere: angkak ketan and bolu kojo.

Angkak ketan is a cake made of glutinous sweet rice, with a thin layer of durian jam. While bolu kojo is a sweet cake made of eggs, sugar, and pandan leaves. Very tasty, and very Palembang!

Okay, this is all my report for now, got to go for a year-end lunch at the front lawn!!

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