Pempek is the best-known of Palembang's dishes. Its origin is undoubtedly Palembang.
According to local tradition, around the 16th century there was an old Chinese immigrant who lived near the Musi river. He noticed an abundance of fish caught by the local fishermen. In the Sumatran tropical climate, before the invention of refrigeration technology, most of these unsold leftover fish decayed and were wasted.
The indigenous people, however, had limited knowledge and techniques for processing fish. During that period, most of the indigenous people simply grilled, fried or boiled their fish instead of adding other ingredients to make new dishes.
The old Chinese man mixed in some tapioca and other spices, which he then sold around the village on his cart. The people referred to this old man as 'pek-apek, where apek is a Chinese slang word to call an old man. The food is known today as empek-empek or pempek.
Watch more about pempek by clicking the picture below: