& Tricks

How to Make Authentic Palembang Vinegar Sauce for Pempek!

Hey SasaGang! Who amongst you loves to eat pempek? This typical Palembang food has an undeniably rich, spicy, and flavorful taste! 

Pempek is a dish made of fish meat as its main ingredient, which can be white snapper, mackerel or cork fish. To complement the dish, pempek must be eaten with a vinegar sauce—a thick and dense tamarind-based sauce that is inseparable to this dish. How do you make this delicious vinegar sauce? Come on, follow the tips below, SasaGang!

1. The Ratio between Brown Sugar and Water

So, SasaGang, the main ingredient to make this vinegar sauce, is none other than brown sugar. If you want to make a rich vinegar sauce that is not too diluted, it is important to measure the ratio of the ingredients! Use a 1:1 ratio of brown sugar and water because this measurement will make the vinegar sauce undeniably thick, rich, and definitely tasty.

2. Use Dark Brown Sugar

When making the vinegar sauce, be mindful not to just use any brown sugar, SasaGang! It is very important to ensure that the vinegar sauce is rich and delicious. Always use dark colored brown sugar. That’s not all, to make the texture thicker, never mix it with soy sauce or other ingredients!

3. Mix In Roasted Ebi

SasaGang, you can also add roasted ebi (dried shrimp) to the vinegar sauce! The ebi will enhance the flavor to make it more authentic. However, do not replace this ingredient with shrimp paste! Even though they are made from the same basic ingredients, the taste of vinegar will be very different.

4. Use Plenty of Garlic

Another tip to make the pempek vinegar sauce more delicious is to simply add garlic. Garlic will give its own aroma to enhance the authentic flavor of the vinegar sauce. Use a large portion of garlic when making the sauce, SasaGang. This is because authentic Palembang vinegar sauce has a very strong and distinct garlic aroma.

5. Use Javanese Tamarind and Vinegar

SasaGang, you need to know that the delicious pempek sauce must include tamarind and vinegar. If you only have either one, the Palembang vinegar sauce will cease to be authentic! The combination of these two ingredients is crucial to make the pempek vinegar sauce even more rich and tastier.

6. Add Tongcai

SasaGang, have you ever heard of tongcai? Tongcai is basically pickled cabbage, often found in Chinese dishes. In order for the pempek vinegar sauce to have that delicious taste, you must include this ingredient. It’s very easy to include it to the dish. You just need to finely grind the tongcai with the roasted ebi, then add it to the brown sugar vinegar! So easy right?

7. Be Mindful of Cooking Time

The right mixture of ingredients is indeed important, but you also have to be mindful and attentive when it comes to cooking the Palembang vinegar sauce, SasaGang! You see, the cooking time will greatly affect the vinegar sauce. Do not rush to lift and serve the vinegar sauce because it is only ready after a long cooking period. About 1 hour in, then you can serve the vinegar sauce, SasaGang!

So, those are the 7 steps to make a delicious and authentic Palembang vinegar sauce for pempek that you can try at home. 

Happy cooking SasaGang!

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