Pempek Adaan & Saus Cuko - Chicken and Shrimp Balls & Spicy Tamarind Sauce

5.0 from 14 reviews

Author: Anita Jacobson




Prep Time: 45 mins

Cook Time: 45 mins

Total Time: 1 hour 30 mins

Serves: 8


  • Pempek adaan (chicken and shrimp meatballs)
  • 500 gram ground chicken
  • 250 gram ground shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 100 gram shallots (Indonesian: bawang merah), grind into a fine paste
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 100 ml coconut milk, from canned coconut milk
  • 500 gram tapioca flour/starch
  • Saus cuko (spicy tamarind sauce)
  • 8-10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10-15 bird-eye chilies (Indonesian: cabe rawit), thinly sliced
  • 200 gram coconut palm sugar (Indonesian: gula Jawa)
  • 50 gram tamarind (Indonesian: asam Jawa)
  • 1 liter (4 cup) water
  • Accompaniments (optional)
  • 8 servings of boiled egg noodles/vermicelli/rice noodles/ramen
  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced


  1. Saus cuko (spicy tamarind sauce): Boil all sauce ingredients in a pot. Turn off the heat once all the sugar melts. Let the sauce steep while we prepare the meatballs. Strain the sauce right before serving.
  2. Prepare pempek mixture: In a mixing bowl, combine ground chicken, ground shrimp, ground shallot, salt, sugar, eggs, and coconut milk into a uniform mixture.
  3. Add tapioca flour and use a spatula to gently fold into the ground chicken and shrimp mixture until uniform.
    TIPS: Sometimes, there is no need to add the whole 500 gram of tapioca flour to create the meatball mixture. I start with about 2⁄3 of the tapioca flour, then only add as much as needed until the mixture reaches a meatball-like mixture consistency.
  4. Chill this mixture in the fridge while we heat a pot of oil for deep-frying. If you don’t wish to fry the meatballs on the same day, you can wrap the bowl with a plastic wrap and just rest it in the fridge overnight.
  5. Heat oil: Heat about 3 inches of oil in a pot over medium heat until the oil is hot (170 Celsius/340 Fahrenheit).
    TIPS: If you don’t have a thermometer, try dropping a tiny meatball mixture into the oil. The oil is ready when the mixture floats to the surface instead of sinks to the bottom of the pot.
  6. Fry meatballs: Remove meatball mixture from the fridge, drop tablespoonfuls of meatball mixture gently into the hot oil and fry until golden brown.
    TIPS: If you use a medium-size cookie scoop, you can use the scoop release trigger to drop the meatball mixture easily into the hot oil.
  7. Drain meatballs: Remove fried meatballs from the hot oil with a slotted spoon or a strainer ladle. Place them on a stainless steel strainer over a mixing bowl to drain off excess oil so they will remain crispy.
  8. Serve pempek: Cut fried meatballs into halves or quarters and place in individual serving bowls. Serve with strained kuah cuko (spicy tamarind sauce), and optionally with boiled noodles and cucumber slices.

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