El Salvador Pupusa, Curtido & Salsa
Today we travel to Central American country of El Salvador. It is the smallest and most densely populated country in Central America. This is the only nation in Central America that does not have Caribbean coastline and the only coastline is the Pacific Coast.
National dish of El Salvador is Pupusa; a handmade stuffed corn tortillas. The stuffing used is either cheese, pork or fried beans, or a mixture of more than one of these three ingredients. Tortillas are made with cornmeal flour known as masa harina. These are similar to Mexican Gorditas though the ingredients used in Gorditas vary, have more filling and have an opening at the center of the tortilla.
Pupusa is served with curtido and tomato salsa. Curtido is a lightly fermented cabbage and chilies slaw. Curtido goes well with pupusa and also with grilled meats, though I could not eat too much of it at a time. The salsa was pretty tasty and U liked it a lot. Pupusas were also pretty good and it was our dinner for two days in a row. The recipe below was our dinner the first day and U’s dinner the next day as well. I would not have minded it the next day but the filling was too little for both of us on the second day. I made myself beans and cheese pupusas instead. I had to make the dough again the second day but the pork filling was sufficient to make pupusas for U.
- 1.3 lbs. Shoulder Cut Picnic Pork with Bone, trimmed and cut into 1 – 1 ½” pieces
- ½ tsp. Black Pepper Powder
- ½ tsp. Salt
- ½ cup Water
- 2 small Tomatoes or 1 cup chopped Tomatoes
- ½ Onion or ½ cup chopped Onion
- 2 cloves Garlic chopped
- 1 ½ Jalapeno Peppers chopped
- ½ tsp. Mexican Oregano (I used dried oregano)
- 1/8 tsp. Roasted Cumin Powder (I substituted cumin for Cinnamon Powder)
- ½ cup Red Kidney Beans (I used canned)
- ¾ – 1 tsp. Black Pepper Powder (adjust to taste)
- ¼ – ½ tsp. Salt (adjust to taste)
- 1 ½ cup Cheese (I used Mexican Blend)
- 2 cups Masa Harina (Cornmeal Flour)
- 1 ½ cups of Water
- Pinch of Salt
- Filling – Trim almost half the fat from the pork shoulder and cut it into 1 – 1 ½” pieces. Trim as much meat from the bone as possible. Pressure cook the meat along with the bone with ½ tsp of salt and ½ tsp of black pepper with ½ cup of water. Pressure cook for 12 minutes on high. I used an American pressure cooker; Fagor brand and I was not sure how long to cook. Luckily 12 minutes worked out perfect. The meat was tender and also was roasted in the fat. Let the pressure release naturally and let the pork cool.
- In a food processor pulse the meat for 2-3 times until the meat is shredded. Make sure to remove the bone before processing it. Transfer processed meat to the same cooker in which pork was cooked.
- Blend or process onion, tomato, garlic, jalapeno, dried oregano to a paste. Add it to the processed meat.
- Mash red kidney beans and add it to the meat mixture. Add salt & pepper to the mixture. If you noticed the ingredient list, black pepper and salt are listed twice.
- Place the cooker on stove and cook the meat, onion tomato paste and mashed beans until raw smell of the tomatoes and onion is gone and the mixture is dry. This will take about 10 minutes. You may have to reduce the heat to medium during the cooking process. Make sure not to burn the meat mixture.
- Taste the mixture and adjust salt and pepper. Add cumin powder, mix well and turn off the heat. Let the mixture cool and mix in the cheese. Keep it aside until ready to use.
- Dough – In a bowl mix masa harina and salt. Pour water and mix to form a dough. If the dough is too sticky add more flour or add more water if the dough is too stiff. Cover and keep it aside for 10 – 15 minutes.
- Pupusa – Lightly oil the hands. Divide the dough into 8 – 10 balls. Take a ball and flatten the dough ball and shape it into a bowl. Fill it with about 1 tbsp. of pork filling, cover the dough bowl and shape it back into a ball. Make sure the filling is covered properly and does not leak. Stuff rest of the dough balls with pork filling in similar manner and keep aside.
- Heat a lightly oiled frying pan or a griddle. Take stuffed dough ball and pat it out into a tortilla shape. It can be patted between the hands or can be placed on a ziploc bag and pressed with hand/fingers into a tortilla. Place it on hot griddle. Cook the pupusas on medium – medium high flame for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown.
- Repeat the same with rest of the stuffed balls. Serve hot with curtido and salsa.
Adapted from: The Kitchen
- 5 – 6 cups shredded Cabbage or ½ head of 1.3 lbs. Cabbage
- 1 ¼ cup shredded Red Cabbage or ¼ head or
- 1 Carrot shredded
- 2 Green Chilies chopped
- ½ Onion Sliced
- 1 tsp. Oregano
- ½ tsp. Salt
- 1 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
- ½ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- ¼ cup Water
- ½ tsp. Brown Sugar (I did not use it)
- Mix together the shredded vegetables.
- Mix rest of the ingredients and pour over the mixed vegetables. Give it a good toss.
- Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or preferably at least 24 hours.
Adapted from: Latinaish
- 3 – 4 Roma Tomatoes or approx. 1 ½ cups chopped Tomatoes
- ½ medium sized Onion chopped
- ¼ of large Bell Pepper chopped
- 4 medium sized Garlic Cloves or 1 tbsp. minced Garlic
- ½ tsp. Salt (adjust to taste)
- 1 ½ Jalapeno Pepper
- ¼ – ½ tsp. Cumin Powder
- ½ cup chopped Cilantro or Coriander Leaves
- Blend all the ingredients until smooth. (Salsa can be served immediately as it is or can be refrigerated in an air tight container. I chose to cook it before serving)
- Pour the salsa into a saucepan and simmer for 5 – 10 minutes on medium flame until the raw smell of tomatoes and onions is gone. The color of the tomatoes will also deepen.
- Possible substitutions: A 32 ounce can of undrained whole tomatoes can be substituted for fresh tomatoes. Green bell pepper can be substituted for the Poblano pepper. (Copy pasted from the source/adapted recipe.)