The Recipe - Salvadorian Pupusas

Salvadorian Bean and Cheese Pupusas

As Erika Lopez and Herson Peraza from La Palma, El Salvador, taught Lindsay Sterling in Portland, ME, November 2015

Note: Serve pupusas with curtido and salsa de tomate. Make those first and then make the pupusas.

Active Cooking Time: 1 hour
Serves: 8

3 cups masa flour
1 3/4-2 cups cups water
8 oz. refried beans
1 cup shredded mozzerella
1 clove garlic
2 Tbsp + 2 Tbsp oil

In large bowl knead 3 cups masa flour and 1 3/4 cups water for 2 minutes. (If you don't knead it, your pupusas will crack and ooze stuffing on the griddle). You may need to add a little bit more water. See how it goes. You want the dough to be soft, pliable, holding together as one mass, and not clinging to the sides of the bowl or sticking substantially to your hands. Once you knead it into a mass, you should be able to press your hand print easily in the top of the mass of dough. If though dough seems too hard for you to do that easily, knead in more water until you can do it. Let the kneaded dough rest covered with a towel while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

In a large saute pan, saute the garlic in oil. Once that is fragrant and soft, add the refried beans, stirring occasionally. Once refried beans are hot and smooth, add the shredded cheese. Stir until cheese is incorporated and completely melted. Set aside to let cool.

Once beans are cool enough to touch, get a side dish of 1-2 Tbsp oil ready, along with your bowl of dough and your refried beans. Heat a griddle or a skillet on medium heat. Watch this quick video to see how to form the pupusas. It shows how you take a lime-sized chunk of dough, roll it into a ball between your hands and pat it into a 1/4-inch-thick disc. Cup one hand and mould the disc into the cup of your hand. Put a wad of about 2 Tbsp-worth of the bean dip into the depression. Close the disc of dough around the bean dip, breaking off any extra dough that bunches at the top. Dip two fingers of your primary hand in the oil and swipe them on the heal of your other hand to to help keep the dough from sticking as you pat the round bundle closed and then pat it into a 1/2-inch-thick disc.)

Put the pupusa on the hot griddle, preferably cast iron or nonstick. (If you're using a stainless steel pan, you'll need to oil the pupusas or pan to prevent sticking.) Cook about 2 minutes per side until masa dough turns from raw to caky has some golden toasty parts.

Serve with curtido, a Salvadorian kind of cabbage slaw, and a red sauce called salsa de tomate.

Copyright Lindsay Sterling 2015