How to Make Fishballs With 'Cuko' (Choo-Ko) Sauce

by Putri Lah

an easy way to make traditional Palembang (Indonesian) food of 'Pempek'


  • 200 Grams spanish mackerel
  • 100 Grams tapioca
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Teaspoon sugar
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 5 Milliliters water
  • 1 ½ Cups water
  • 100 Grams palm sugar
  • 6 Chili Peppers
  • 3 Cups cloves of garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce (sweet)
  • 2 ½ Tablespoons white vinegar
  • dried shrimp
  • Instructions

    Step 1

    Mashed 200gr of fish in a food processor or just tear it with your fingers

    Step 2

    Add 5 ml of water, 1 tsp of sugar, 1 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of pepper and if you like, 1 chicken bouillion. Mix until all of the ingredients incorporated

    Step 3

    Gradually add in 100gr of tapioca. Gently knead with your hand

    Step 4

    Slowly knead you get this form. Small tips, the more the water, the more the tapioca.

    Step 5

    Form the dough into small balls. If it is too sticky, dust with a little of of tapioca

    Step 6

    Boil some water and cook the fishball. When the fishballs become translucent and floating at the surface, take them out and drained

    Step 7

    Waiting your fishballs totally drained, let's make the sauce

    Step 8

    Mashed 6 chilis (or more) with 3 cloves of garlic.

    Step 9

    Boil 2 cups of water and add in your garlic chilis mixture

    Step 10

    Add in 100gr of palm sugar or brown sugar

    Step 11

    Add in 1 tbsp of dark soy sauce (sweet), salt and maybe, additional granulated sugar. Taste test. Bring to a boil and sugar was soluble. Turn off the heat

    Step 12

    Add in 2-3 tbsp of white vinegar. Mix it up. Taste test before finished it offf

    Step 13

    Pour the sauce in a bowl. You may filter thw dregs, but I like to have lotsa chilis and garlic swimming on my bowl

    Step 14

    Now back to the fishballs. Deep fried is the best but I choose regular pan-fried the fishballs. Small tips: small pops maybe come out from the fish and flashing hot oil from the pan.

    Step 15

    Fry te fishballs in about 3 minutes or until no more pops come out. And there you go ... your fishballs or pempek is ready! Now, serving time

    Step 16

    Oopss almost forgot ☺ if you have dried shrimp, you can roughly mash it and prepare it for topping

    Step 17

    Put some pempek on your serving bowl, drizzled with lots of 'cuko' sauce and topped with mashed dried shrimp. You can also add diced cucumber and yellow noodles in the bowl. Enjoy! 😊