Personalized pupusas offer a taste of El Salvador

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Photo by Hannah Bailey

The golden pupusas are flipped on the stove.

Have you ever thought of changing up your meals? Well, try a popular dish from El Salvador: the pupusa. It’s tasty and will make your stomach happy.  

The pupusa is a versatile flatbread that is eaten a lot by many Salvadorians on special occasions like Christmas and New Year’s. They originated in El Salvador and made their way into other Central American countries. 

However, pupusas weren’t always as popular as they are today. In the late 1940s, pupusas were not as common in El Salvador, but they were readily available in the small country’s central towns, such as the city Quezaltepeque. When the popularity of pupusas spread around El Salvador during the 1960s, they became a popular dish in El Salvador and neighboring Central American countries, such as Honduras and Guatemala and later added their own twist to make it their own. For example, during the 1970s, Guatemala made their pupusas into a half-moon shape. 

The pupusa is a dish that comes in many different forms with various fillings. Pupusas typically have traditional fillings inside like beans, pale cheese and chicharron (seasoned pork-meat) and can be served either one filling or with a combination. It can be eaten in different ways too. If you would rather be polite, then eat it with a fork and knife. But how one usually eats it is by opening the pupusa and putting the side dishes, such as curtido (lightly fermented cabbage with red chilies and vinegar) and a watery tomato salsa inside it. When it has cooled down, then it can be enjoyed as a finger food.  

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups masa (corn flour) 
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ medium white onion, diced
  • 15-ounces Central American red beans (or red kidney beans)
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • 4 ounces grated cheese (about 1 cup)
  • Kosher salt for taste
  • Salvadoran Cabbage Relish (Curtido)
  • Salvadoran Salsa Roja (for taste)
  • Any filling of your choice (beans, cheese, or chicharron)

Instructions:

First, you need to grease the pan with a bit of oil so the pupusas don’t stick together while cooking. Secondly, prepare the Masa flour by continuously adding hot water and mixing together until it turns into a thick paste.

After that, take a little of the dough and hit it with the palm of your hand onto a flat surface until it forms a tortilla. Place it in the center of the hand, and add the ingredients of your choice in the middle of the tortilla. Be careful to not add too much so it doesn’t fall apart.

Fold the ends together and make the tortilla flat with your hands and put the pupusa on the skillet and flip it over until it gets a golden color to it, then enjoy! 

Delight your palate with a fun and tasty recipe that brings a little bit of El Salvador into your home. 

Adapted from recipes by the LA Times, SalvadorianRecipes.com, and Bon Appetit.