What is a pupusa? Taste El Salsabor Home Made Pupusas!

What is a pupusa? Taste El Salsabor Home Made Pupusas!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and the big question is: What is a pupusa? A beloved Salvadoran dish made of a thick corn tortilla and stuffed with a savory filling. You just mix together masa flour, salt, and water to make up the dough and then you can add in any kind of savory filling—typical options include beef, beans, cheese, and pork. These masa cakes are authentic Salvadoran street food and are a great option for entertaining. Pupusas are often served with curtido, a fermented cabbage relish, which usually includes carrots, onions, spices, and garlic.

A pupusa is a thick griddlecake or flatbread from El Salvador and Honduras, made with cornmeal or rice flour, similar to the Venezuelan and Colombian arepa. In El Salvador, it has been declared the national dish and has a specific day to celebrate it. It is usually stuffed with one or more ingredients which may include cheese (such as quesillo or cheese with loroco buds), chicharrón, squash, or refried beans. It is typically accompanied by curtido (a spicy cabbage slaw) and tomato salsa and is traditionally eaten by hand.

The name in Nawat is kukumutzin. It’s possible that the word stems from the verb pupusas which means to puff up.

El Salvador and Honduras both claim to be the birthplace of the pupusa. Salvadoran archeologist Roberto Ordóñez attributed the creation of the pupusa to the Pipil people due to the name meaning ‘swollen’ in the Pipil language, and the artifacts found in the Joya de Ceren which show ingredients and tools that were used to make an early version of pupusas. Honduran etymologists say that since the Pipil language is so close to the Nahuatl language, the Honduran Nahua tribe could have created the dish. The topic of the pupusa’s origin also came up during the negotiation for the CAFTA-DR. Both nations wanted to make the pupusa an exclusive export. After two days the Honduran delegation ceded the right to El Salvador.

Taste El Salsabor Home Made Pupusas!


Make the curtido: In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, onion, and carrots. Pour the boiling water over the vegetables and toss. Let sit for 10 minutes, then drain.

In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, combine the vinegar, oregano, and salt. Pour over the slaw and toss to coat. Once thoroughly mixed, transfer the curtido any leftover liquid in the bowl to an airtight jar or container.
Chill for at least 20 minutes in the refrigerator, or chill overnight for best results. Make the chicharrón: Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the pork shoulder and salt. Cook for 15 minutes without disturbing. If the pork is browning too quickly, reduce the heat to medium. Turn the pork over and let cook on the other side for 10 minutes more, or until crispy and golden brown.

Transfer the pork to a food processor and add the tomato, green bell pepper, and onion. Pulse until thick paste forms. The mixture should not be watery. Set aside. Make the pupusa dough: In a large bowl, whisk together the masa harina and salt, then add the water.

Use your hands to mix until the dough comes together with a clay-like texture. Fill a small bowl with water and a bit of oil and set it near your workstation. You’ll wet your fingers with the mixture as you work to keep the dough from sticking to your hands.

Take a golf ball-sized portion of dough and roll it into a ball, then flatten into an even round. Fill the dough round with ½ tablespoon chicharrón paste, 1 teaspoon refried beans, and 1 teaspoon mozzarella cheese. Fold the dough over the filling until it’s completely sealed. Then, pat out the ball between your hands until flat. If the pupusa cracks, patch it with a bit of dough and a little oil. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Heat a large pan or griddle over medium heat. Brush with vegetable oil, then place 2-3 pupusas on the pan and cook for 2-4 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden brown. Flip and cook on the other side for 2-4 minutes more, until golden brown and warmed through. Repeat with the remaining pupusas.Serve the pupusas with curtido.Enjoy!


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