Paul knows how much I love tacos and grilled cheese. He took me to an El Salvadorian restaurant and introduced me to pupusas. He knew that by taking me, I’d (1) absolutely love it and (2) that I would try an figure out how to make them at home.
He accomplished his mission of having a pupusa-making factory/girlfriend at home.
A pupusa is a traditional El Salvadorian dish made of a thick, handmade tortilla that is stuffed with cheese and anything additional like pulled pork, chorizo, or refried beans.
The most popular pupusa, pupusa de quesillo, is simply filled with quesadilla cheese – so it’s essentially an El Salvadorian grilled cheese.
Most pupusas are served with a side of curtido, a refreshing slaw made of cabbage, carrots, onion, cilantro and vinegar with salt and pepper completes the dish.
Here’s what the curtido looks like
I used a plate, the counter, and plastic wrap to push the tortillas down to make the pupusa. This way, I would make 2 tortillas, fill one with the fillings, and then push them together and seal the ends.
I found a method online via Zestuous that recommends making the pupusas in a little ball. That method didn’t work out for me so much.
What You’ll Need: yields about 12 pupusas
- 2 cups masa harina
- 1 1/2 – 1 3/4 cups warm water
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tbs. melted butter
- 1 handful of queso cheese per pupusa
- 1 scoop of refried beans per pupusa
- 1 scoop of cooked chorizo per pupusa
- 1/2 head of cabbage, shredded
- 1 onion, sliced thin
- 2 carrots, julienned and chopped
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 a bunch of cilantro leaves
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp salt and pepper
Let’s Get Cooking:
Prep the curtido:
- Combine cabbage, onion, and carrot in a large mixing bowl.
- In a smaller bowl, add apple cider vinegar, white vinegar and water.
- Mix red pepper flakes, and brown sugar into the vinegar mixture.
- Dump the vinegar mixture over the cabbage mixture.
- Add in cilantro, salt and pepper, and mix with your hands.
- Cover and leave on the counter or in the refrigerator for over an hour.
For the pupusas:
- In a large bowl, mix the masa harina, salt, butter and warm water together. Mix with your hands until it makes a dough.
- If you press your thumb into the masa mix and it cracks, the mixture needs more water.To keep the dough moist, cover it with a towel that is damp from water in between working with it.
- Place a piece of plastic wrap onto the counter.
- Take a small handful of the dough and make it into a ball.
- Place the dough ball onto the piece of plastic wrap and using the meaty part of your hand, flatten the ball of dough into a tortilla like form.
- Add all your cheese, beans, chorizo filling to the top of the tortilla that you just made and place aside.
- Using another piece of plastic wrap, make another tortilla of the same size.
- Add the new tortilla on top of the tortilla with the fillings and seal the sides together by pinching with your fingertips.
- Heat a pan to a medium heat. Add a light cooking spray to the pan.
- Once warm, place the pupusa into the pan and fry lightly on each side, until golden.
- Remove from pan, place on a plate and top it with a scoop of the curtido, and enjoy.