I was born in El Salvador, a BEAUTIFUL country with an amazing climate, i.e.; warm all year. I came to Canada at a young age, and I love it for various reasons, but El Salvador is in my bones.
It's a hard thing to describe to people at times, how you can be at home in one place and still miss somewhere you've barely been. How it felt the first time I went back there - standing on the shores of the Pacific Ocean with the sound of the waves in front of me and my family members laughing together behind me - how I understood my parents a little bit better.
I was only 4 years old when I left, so most of what I know about it has come from my family and friends. It's a small country, but incredibly scenic. You can find major city centre's, plains and isolated homes in the mountains. The music and culture is lively, but unfortunately poverty is an issue. The people are warm and the driving situation is CRAZY. The food is amazing.
Oh the food! I am telling you, there is nothing better. Our national dish is called a PUPUSA, the easiest way I can describe it to people who have never tried one is by comparing it to say a grilled cheese sandwich - only we use a tortilla instead of bread. It is the most delicious thing you'll ever try, and its not that hard to make - although it does require some planning and some time consideration.
Pupusa's are paired with a type of slaw that we call "Curtido" and a seasoned tomato sauce. They can be stuffed with pork and cheese (my fave) or refried beans with cheese, or just cheese, or all three!
My mom tends to make these for family get togethers and we never tire of them! It has become one of Peter's favourite foods now as well, he can usually down about 8 of them in one sitting.
For the Curtido
- 1/2 head of cabbage, sliced
- 1-2 carrots, grated
- 1/2 Red onion, sliced
- 1/2 cup vinegar
- 1/4 cup hot water
- 1 Tsp Oregano (Mexican if you can find it)
- Pinch of Salt and Red Pepper flakes
Slice the Cabbage and onion and grate the carrots - combine in a bowl. Combine the Vinegar and water together first and then pour over sliced ingredients. Add oregano, salt and pepper flakes and cover for at least 2 hours (although preferably for a day).
For the Salsa
- 1 can of whole or crushed tomatoes
- 1/4 onion
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 1 small jalapeño, seeded and chopped
- 1/4 cup cilantro (optional)
- 1 teaspoon Oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Note- The typical Sauce is hard to replicate because the spices are not commonly found, but this is a good substitute. Normally the sauce would be combined with a seasoning mix called "relajo".
Add everything together in a blender and add water until smooth - It is usually a fairly thin sauce. Transfer to a saucepan and simmer over medium until slightly thickened (about 10 minutes). Off the heat adjust seasoning to taste, is served at room temperature.
For the Pupusas
- 2 Cups Masa Harina (Maseca brand is easily found at Wal-Mart)
- 1 1/3 Cup warm water
- Refried beans
- Mozzarella Cheese, or monterey jack, grated
- Shredded Pork; Traditionally Pork Belly is used but Pork butt - which actually comes from the shoulder - works well also.
These are the traditional methods of creating the filling - however, feel free to experiment with shortcuts, for example canned beans should work as well as dry beans and there are multiple ways to make shredded pork, it just needs to have a slightly pasty consistency.
- To cook the pork, trim some (not all) of the fat and cut into cubes. In a pot cover the pork with water and cook on low for 3 hours or until knife-tender. Remove any excess water and fry the pork (in the remaining fat). Grind the pork with a little tomato sauce and 1/2 onion to create filling.
- For the beans cook 1 cup of dry beans in water with 2 cloves of garlic for an hour or until cooked through. Combine in a food processor and return the puree to the stove (in a pan or pot) add a tiny bit of vegetable oil and cook for another 5-10 minutes.
Combine the masa with the water (and if desired add salt) and knead into a smooth dough, it should not be too dry or sticky. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
Grabbing enough dough to roll into a ball about 2 inches in diameter. Flatten it out slightly and create a groove in the centre and stuff with your choice of pork or beans. Add cheese to both.
Fold the dough over on itself, and then roll back into a ball shape, so that the stuffing is in the centre. Gently flatten the dough out again.
You can use a griddle or a regular pan (although this would take longer). Lightly grease the griddle or pan with vegetable oil first.
Cook the Pupusa for about 2-3 minutes per side or until nicely browned. Serve with the Salsa & Curtido and enjoy!
These are so good
I seriously wish there was a Pupusa food truck. Outside my house. All the time.
I hope you guys try this!