Sunday, November 9, 2008


A warm pocket of melted cheese tucked inside a disc of lightly spiced masa, with spicy curtido on the side... Claire's recent review of Pupusa's restaurant at Culinary Colorado made me hungry for pupusas!

Pupusas, an El Salvadoran dish, might be described as a thick corn tortilla with cheese baked into the middle. Curtido is a spicy cabbage salad that traditionally accompanies pupusas. I need to confess, right up front, that I have yet to eat a pupusa (or curtido) in a El Salvadoran restaurant, and so I cannot vouch for the authenticity of this recipe. But, I can tell you that the results are tasty!

Although the pupusas are made from scratch, the masa is very easy to put together, so the pupusas can be prepared in 45 minutes or less (including baking time).

I like to serve the pupusas with curtido (recipe here), avocado and salsa. Beans would also make a nice side dish. The curtido improves as it "marinates," so assemble it the night before, if you can.While the curtido is good on its own, I usually mix in diced avocado before serving, using 1/2 avocado per person.

Pupusas are traditionally fried, but I prefer to bake them. I've found that leftover pupusas are best reheated in the toaster oven or stove top; they can get a bit tough in the microwave.

Variations on the cheese pupusas include mixing chopped cilantro or diced chilies in with the cheese. (Again, I can't vouch for the authenticity, but it tastes good!)

2 cups masa harnia (most grocery stores carry this, in either the "hispanic foods" or baking aisles)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 to 2 cups warm water
about 1 cup grated cheese (such as monterey jack or cheddar)

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Lightly brush 2 non-stick baking sheets with canola oil.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the cumin and salt into the masa harina.

Gradually stir in the warm water, mixing until smooth. The dough should be soft but not sticky. Add more masa harina or water as needed. (I usually wind up using a full 2 cups of water.)

Scoop out 1/3 cup of dough. Divide it into two balls, one slightly larger than the other. Flatten the larger ball into a pancake, and add 1-2 tablespoons of cheese to the middle. Curl the edges of the bowl up around the cheese filling, then set the cheese-filled masa down on wax paper or parchment paper. Flatten the second ball into a pancake, and fit it on top of the cheese-filled dough. Use your fingers to gently flatten the cheese-filled mound of masa into a disc to form your pupusa. The filling should be completely enclosed in the dough.

Place the pupusa on a baking sheet.

Repeat until all the dough has been used (I get 8 pupusas, 4 per baking sheet).

Lightly brush the top of each pupusa with canola oil.

Bake 15 minutes.


veggie belly said...

I have been wanting to make pupusas for so long. Masa and queso sound so good together! Its interesting that pupusas and Jamaican patties are nearly the same concept.

Beatrice said...

I've never had a Jamaican patty! Hopefully you will post about them on your blog?