MELBOURNE | Do you know your mie celor udang from your pempek campur? Up until a few weeks ago, I certainly didn’t.
Indonesia is one of those places that’s been high on my list of places to visit. Somehow, despite its proximity to Australia and my propensity to explore the unknown (that is, unknown from my point of view), I’ve never been. I mean, I’ve not even been to Bali, and that’s practically an Aussie right of passage.
Being unable to travel, I’ve been trying to expand my food horizons even more so than usual in Melbourne. I tried the fantastic Indonesian style congee from Cikocik the other day, and this weekend, tried mie celor udang and pempek campur from Pempek Si Bontet.
Pempek Si Bontet was started by South Sumatran born and former 400 Gradi and Ettamo chef Stifany Jakub in March. It’s one of many side business that savvy chefs and cooks have been starting around town in the face of COVID-19 related lay-offs.
Mie celor is a noodle soup dish served in a coconut and shrimp based broth. It contains thick blanched (celor) udon-like noodles (mie), bean sprouts, fresh prawns (udang) hard boiled egg, spring onions, fried shallots, and sambal. It’s complex, light, and a whole lot of delicious. Its one of two speciality dishes of Palembang city in South Sumatra. The other speciality is pempek.
Pempek is a savoury fish cake made using boneless ground fish meat, water, salt, and sago flour. It’s a bouncy delight with a crispy, fried exterior. It’s served with a sweet and sour vinegar based sauce called kuah cuko. Again, totally delicious.
I’m thinking that when we’re all allowed to travel again, a trip to South Sumatra is definitely on the books. If you want to try the dishes without leaving Melbourne, you can contact Stifany on the Pempek Si Bontet Instagram page, or on Whatsapp. Place and order and she’ll deliver to your door.
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