I discovered pupusas several years ago, when I was working for a certain tech startup in a certain silicon valley city. There was a Salvadorean restaurant right down the street, and I got hooked on these stuffed tortillas. They came with a spicy salsa and something which is akin to a vinegar coleslaw. Most pupusa recipes even in Spanish on the internet are uninspiring and/or unspecific, the English corner of the web was even worse. So I made up my own recipes. I’m pretty sure I heavily Mexicanized it though.
You can fill these with pretty much anything. Traditional fillings would include seasoned meat, chicarrones, cheese, or beans. I made mine with a mixture of monterey jack cheese and black bean paste. As for the dough, use whatever you use for tortillas, be it Maseca or fresh masa. Beat in some lard or shortening until fluffy. Unfortunately I don’t remember exactly how much shortening I added, but I think it was about 1/4 cup for 16 tortillas worth of masa. If you don’t know how to make tortillas, I recommend you attempt that before attempting this! I’ll eventually post a tutorial on that.
Disclaimer: This recipe is not very precise, and it might not give you good results unless you know what you are doing. Except for the encurtido de repollo, I think my instructions are dead on for that.
Black Bean Paste:
- 1 cup dried black beans
- 5 cups water
- 1/2 onion, left intact
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp oil (olive is my usual choice)
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 sprig epazote, or cilantro if you can’t find it
Combine beans, water, onion, garlic, and oil. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cover and let cook for 2 hours, or until beans are becoming tender but not quite done. Add the salt and epazote, cook until the beans are done. Puree with as much liquid as you need to get a smooth but not runny paste.
- 6 medium tomatoes, roasted
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- chile habanero (or serrano), roasted
- salt, sugar
Remove the burnt skins of the tomato, then mash or chop. Saute the onion in the olive oil until soft, then add tomatoes. Cut a slit in the chile, put in the sauce. Season with salt and sugar to taste. Simmer about 10 minutes, or until oil pools on top and the sauce is fragrant. Remove chile before serving, especially if it is an habanero.
Encurtido de Repollo:
- 1 red cabbage, shredded
- 2 carrots, in strips
- 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
- 1 jalapeño, in strips
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup fruity vinegar (I used coconut because I had it, cider would do fine)
Start some water boiling. Put all the vegetables in a colander. Dump the boiling water through the colander to blanch the vegetables a bit. Mix with remaining ingredients and let sit for an hour before using.
Using a tortilla press or a rolling pin, roll a 1 to 2 inch diameter ball of dough out to about 6 inch diameter. Place a small spoonful of bean paste in the middle, as well as a small spoonful of grated cheese. Fold dough around filling back into a ball. Roll or press back out. Cook on a very hot, ungreased cast iron skillet until each side is dotted with small brown specks and the dough looks cooked. Serve with tomato sauce and encurtido.