I remember traveling from El Salvador every summer to my Dad’s house in Houston and being in awe every time we would pass by a random pupusería in the middle of Texas. Back then, you had to be very Salvi to even know what that word meant without putting on a grossed-out snarl on your face and going: “pupu…what?!”
Now, I’m happy to report, that I’m no longer pupusa-deprived when I travel to Texas or anywhere in California. Pupusas, that mouth-watering Salvadorean staple dish made with cheese, beans, chicharrones, etc stuffed into a corn tortilla, have captured the taste buds of oh-so-many around the world. It’s also very common to find a pupusa stand in any farmer’s market in Los Angeles, along with a winding line of hungry brunchers.
Of course, like any native, I’m still not able to find that one place that makes them taste the same way they do in El Salvador. My husband says the same about tacos de suadero! I guess it’s the cheese in pupusas that makes the difference? Don’t know.
So instead of complaining, I just make my own…and make-up my own! They are so easy to make and so easy to stuff anything you want your child to eat, he might never see it coming once it’s folded into yummy melted cheese. Plus, it’s made to be eaten with your hands. Please don’t ever let me catch you using a fork and knife for these. You are meant to scorch your fingers!
They are also great for play dates and/or parties at your house. You can prepare the masa and have the kids make their own little balls and choose their own stuffing. Their little hands will love patting these into a tortilla shape once stuffed. Delicious, nutritious, cultural and fun….hmmmm..pupusas!
Below is how I make them. Notice that the measurements aren’t exact because these type of dishes evolve as you make them. The traditional stuffing is any combination of cheese, pork meat (chicharrón), refried beans. Now in the U.S. they have fused into tons of creative combinations of ingredients including chicken and veggies.
How to Make Bean + Cheese Pupusas
- 2 Cups of Masa Harina-the most familiar and popular one is Maseca
- 1 1/2 Cups Water
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 Cup Quesillo (available at most Latin supermarkets) or any type of soft shredded cheese
- 1 can of black or pinto refried beans
1. Combine the masa harina, water and salt in a bowl until the consistency is that of dough. It should not stick to your hands.
2. In another bowl, mix the refried beans and the cheese until well combined.
3. Take some masa with your hands and form several small balls. You should have enough for 6-8 pupusas, depending on the size you want.
4. Take one ball at a time, poke a hole with your finger and fill it with the beans + cheese mixture.
5. Close the hole and flatten with your two palms, in a clapping motion, until you;ve formed a disc.
6. Place the pupusas on a pan or iron skillet and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side. You can add a little oil to the pan but it’s not necessary. The trick to knowing when they’re done is that dark yummy spots will form on the surface.
You can also try these combinations:
- Spinach and cheese
- Shredded chicken, zucchini and ricotta
- Pork, beans and corn
Enjoy, and let us know if you come up with delish combinations we can add to our repertoire.