Makes 18 pupusas, which serves 6 as a main course.
We filled our pupusas with beans and cheese because it’s cheap and easy. Traditional pupusas can also be filled with pulled pork and other delicious things. Experiment if you’d like; it’s pretty hard to go wrong.
For the Filling:
1 can (15- to 16-ounces) pinto beans, drained
½ cup chicken broth
½ teaspoon oregano (Mexican, if you can find it)
1 large bay leaf
1 cup mild cheese such as grated queso blanco or mozzarella or crumbled queso fresco
Salt and ground black pepper
For the Dough:
4 cups masa harina
½ teaspoon salt
For the filling: Bring beans, broth, oregano, bay leaf, and 1/2 cup water to boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until flavors blend and beans begin to break down, adding more water if necessary, 10 to 15 minutes. Mash beans with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon; continue to cook until they are the consistency of refried beans. Removed from heat and discard the bay leaf; stir in cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
For the dough: Meanwhile, mix masa, salt, and 2 ½ cups warm tap water in a large bowl; knead it into a soft dough, adding more warm water as necessary until a small portion pressed into a disc doesn’t crack around the edges.
For the pupusas: Divide dough into large golf ball size portions. Using your thumb, make a large, deep depression in the dough. Add about 1 tablespoon of the filling, making sure not overfill. Using your fingers, press dough together to cover the filling, then press ball between your palms into an approximate 4-inch disc. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. (There may be leftover filling, which is great in omelets!)
Meanwhile, heat a large ungreased sauté pan over medium heat. Cook pupusas, turning once, until browned and blistering, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve warm with Curtido and Salsa Roja.
In El Salvador, they make this condiment with pineapple vinegar. Since I can’t find that in New Haven, I used half white vinegar and half cider vinegar to achieve that hint of sweetness and tang.
½ small cabbage, shredded
1 carrot, peeled and grated
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/3 cup white or rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup cider vinegar
Bring 4 cups of water to boil. Put the cabbage and carrots in a large heatproof bowl. Pour boiling water over cabbage and carrots; let sit for 5 minutes. Drain mixture, pressing out as much water as possible.
Return cabbage and carrots to the bowl; add scallions, jalapeno, vinegars, about 2/3 cup of the water and salt to taste. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Like I said, Salvadoran food tends not to be very spicy, so add more jalapeno if you like.
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ medium onion, diced
3 small cloves garlic, minced
1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 ½ cups diced tomatoes (canned or fresh) and their liquid
2 teaspoons dried oregano (Mexican, if possible)
Salt and pepper
Heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and jalapeno; sauté until fragrant, another minute. Add tomatoes, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until flavors have mingled and the salsa has thickened to your desired consistency. Allow the salsa to cool, and then whir it until smooth in a blender or food processor.
Note: You eat pupusas with your hands, tearing them open while they’re still hot and putting the salsa and curtido on top.
Thank you for sharing this – we actually have a Salvadoran restaurant here in Western MA and the food is delightful. I will have to try these at home.
What a cute story 🙂 I sometimes think back to getting so dressed up for our early dates, too. These look so tasty!
Great story and recipe. Thanks for sharing!
Heather I. says
Mmmm, I love pupusas, at least the ones I’ve tried at Costco. And, I’m imagining these ones are ten times better!
Jenny Flake says
I.AM.IN.LOVE! Seriously, yum!
I’ve never tried these before – they look amazing!
where do you find masa harina? is it the same thing as cornmeal? I am going to make pulled pork tomorrow and I think that this would be a really good way to use the leftovers!
Here’s a link that explains the difference between masa harina and cornmeal. I don’t know about you, but we can get masa harina at the grocery store. If you have a hispanic grocery store nearby, they’ll have it for sure.
Oops. Here it is! http://www.chow.com/digest/6324/whats-the-difference-between-cornmeal-and-masa-harina/
I don’t see a link, Mom!
These sound wonderful, almost like a deconstructed arepa.
Cookin' Canuck says
I absolutely love this idea! Finger food is always so much fun and the flavors in these pupusas are so enticing.
Becca J says
I love the ideas of these–corn, beans, and cheese are a magic combination. But I had trouble getting the masa to hold together, and mine came out really, really thick, almost like doughy pancakes, nothing like your pretty picture. Any tips on how to do it better next time?
Our experience of these amazing corn cakes is that you add enough water so the dough can be pressed or rolled out without cracking around the edges. It can also be made ahead–just add more warm water as needed. The dough is pretty forgiving as long as it’s moist. Good luck!
I am 100 percent authentic Salvadorena. My daughters and I made pupusas the other day. I was happy to find the recipe for the salsa which is unlike a mexican salsa for dips or enchiladas. Authentic pupusas are also filled with chicharon, I believe that is like fried pork. Or any of the fillings given in this recipe (cheese, beans or a combination “revueltas”). Today pupusas can be found with any filling you can think of. They are typical to El Salvador and Guatemala. They are defintely eaten by tearing and opening up to add the curtido and salsa. Thank you so much for this recipe which shares our culture.
I’ve made pupusas before, but have been waiting on a recipe for curtido.
The salsa roja was perfect; took well to a bit more jalepeno.
The curtido was tangy, and just like I remembered it. I couldn’t get my hands on scallions, and added about 1 +1/4 TSP of oregano – still came out great.
Thanks for sharing!