Pupusas are the beloved national dish of El Salvador, believed to originate with the Indigenous Pipil tribe over 2,000 years ago. During the 1980s civil war in El Salvador, many El Salvadorans fled the country, bringing pupusas all over the globe.
Before colonization, pupusas were vegetarian, filled with squash blossoms, herbs, and mushrooms. In the 1570s, meat became common in the filling, and pupusas are often filled with pork, refried beans, or squash. This recipe includes curtido, a Salvadoran cabbage slaw or relish often served with pupusas.
Prep time 30 min | Cook time 10 min | Total time 40 min | Yield: 6 servings of 3 pupusas
For the pupusa dough:
- 4 cups masa harina
- 2 tsp salt
- 3 cups cold water
For the filling:
- 4 oz mozzarella cheese
- 1 15-oz can black beans
- 1 medium winter squash (ex: butternut or acorn)
- 4 tsp vegetable oil
For the curtido:
- ½ head cabbage
- 1 small onion
- 2 carrots
- 4 cups boiling water
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp salt
- Wash the squash, cabbage, onion, and carrots.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cut the squash in half, rub it with 1 tsp oil, and place it face down on a baking sheet. Once the oven is heated, bake for 30 minutes.
- While the squash cooks, begin the curtido.
-Shred the cabbage, slice the onion, and grate the carrots and combine them in a large bowl.
-Pour the boiling water over the vegetables and toss. Let sit for 10 minutes, then drain.
-In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, combine the vinegar, oregano, and salt. Pour over the vegetables and toss to coat.
-Once thoroughly mixed, transfer the curtido and any leftover liquid in the bowl to an airtight jar or container, and chill for at least 20 minutes in the refrigerator.
- While the curtido chills, make the pupusa dough.
-In a large bowl, mix together the masa harina and salt, then add the water.
-Use your hands to mix it until the dough comes together with a clay-like texture.
- Fill a small bowl with water and a bit of oil and set it near your work station. You’ll wet your fingers with the mixture as you work to keep the dough from sticking to your hands.
- Take a golf ball-sized portion of dough and roll it into a ball, then flatten it into an even round.
- Scoop the seeds out of the cooked squash, and scoop the squash out of the skin and mash up a little bit.
- Fill the dough round with 1 tsp beans, 1 tsp mozzarella cheese, and 1 tsp squash. Fold the dough over the filling until it’s completely sealed. Then, pat out the ball between your hands until flat. If the pupusa cracks, patch it with a bit of dough and a little oil.
- Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
- Heat a large pan over medium heat. Brush 2-3 pupusas with vegetable oil, then place them on the pan and cook for 2-4 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown. Flip and cook on the other side for 2-4 minutes more, until golden brown and warmed through. Repeat with the remaining pupusas.
- Serve the pupusas with curtido.
Try it yourself and tell us about it in the comments!
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