International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Pupusas

Women making pupusas

(Salvadoran stuffed masa flatbread)

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Pupusas are similar to corn tortillas, only thicker and stuffed with cheese, beans or meat. The pupusa originated in El Salvador, but it is also popular in neighboring Honduras. Pupusas are traditionally made by slapping the dough back and forth between greased palms. A tortilla press is quicker and easier for beginners.

Makes 4 or 5 pupusas

Ingredients

  • Masa harina -- 2 cups
  • Warm water -- 1 cup
  • Filling (see variations) -- 1 cup

Method

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the masa harina and water and knead well. Knead in more water, one tablespoonful at a time if needed, to make a moist, yet firm dough. (It should not crack at the edges when you press down on it.) Cover and set aside to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Roll the dough into a log and cut it into 8 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball.
  3. Press an indentation in each ball with your thumb. Put about 1 tablespoon of desired filling into each indentation and fold the dough over to completely enclose it. Press the ball out with your palms to form a disc, taking care that that the filling doesn't spill out.
  4. Line a tortilla press with plastic and press out each ball to about 5 or 6 inches wide and about 1/4-inch thick. If you don't have a tortilla press, place the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap or wax paper and roll it out with a rolling pin.
  5. Heat a greased skillet over medium-high flame. Cook each pupusa for about 1 to 2 minutes on each side, until lightly browned and blistered. Remove to a plate and hold warm until all pupusas are done. Serve with curtido and salsa roja.

Pupusa Variations

  • This recipe uses masa harina, a special dried cornmeal flour used in making tortillas, tamales, etc. If you are able to get fresh masa, definitely use it instead. The flavor will be much fresher. Just substitute the masa harina and water with fresh masa. One pound will make about 4 to 6 pupusas depending on size.
  • Pupusas de Queso: With a cheese filling. Use grated quesillo, queso fresco, farmer's cheese, mozzarella, Swiss cheese or a combination. Add some minced green chile if you like.
  • Pupusas de Chicharrones: With a filling of fried chopped pork and a little tomato sauce. A reasonable facsimile can be made by pulsing 1 cup of cooked bacon with a little bit of tomato sauce in a food processor.
  • Pupusas de Frijoles Refritos: With a refried bean filling.
  • Pupusas Revueltas: Use a mixture of chicharrones, cheese and refried beans.
  • Pupusas de Queso y Loroco: With a cheese and tropical vine flower filling. Loroco can be found in jars at many Latin markets.
  • Pupusas de Arroz: A variety of pupusa that uses rice flour instead of corn masa.
  • Other Fillings: Cooked potatoes or finely minced, sautéed jalapeño peppers are also tasty fillings. Try a mixture of different fillings.

Notes

  • The pupusa is so fundamental to the cuisine of El Salvador that the country has even declared November 13th "National Pupusa Day."