Like a true Salvadoran, I love pupusas. Pupusa is a funny word but these round, stuffed tortillas are El Salvador’s national dish and probably it’s biggest claim to fame. They are traditionally stuffed with chicharron, cheese and beans. They are served with salsa and curtido, a coleslaw-like side.
To make them as authentic as can be, the chicharron, frijoles and queso (cheese) must all be prepared from scratch. I watched my mother make them numerous times over the years and she made it look so simple. As I grew up I realized how long of a process it really is.
That’s why I always round up a group of friends and have a pupusa party. We’re getting better, but I’ve really wanted to make them on my own. So, I decided to play my first solo pupusa-making experience safe and start with only one ingredient – cheese!
If you’re looking for an authentic meatless dish, cheese pupusas are a good option for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. The same goes for cheese and bean pupusas.
These are easy to make, no wonder my mom made it look so easy! I remembered the ingredients she used and my Salvadoran instincts helped me come up with the perfect measurements.
BONUS: the bonus to this recipe is that you get to practice your tortilla making skills, since essentially, pupusas are stuffed tortillas.
Yields 12 pupusas
For the masa
- 1 1/2 cups of Maseca
- 1 cup of water
- 1/2 crumbled feta
- 1 cup of shredded mozzarella Note: shred your own, do not use pre-shredded mozzerela. Pizza mozzarella is best.
- 1/4 cup very finely chopped green pepper
- 1 TBSP finely chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup of canola oil
For the masa
- Pour masa into a a bowl.
- Add half of the water. Mix to combine with your hands.
- Slowly pour the rest of the water in.
- Knead dough until it is the consistency of play dough. If it is too dry, add 1 tbsp of water. If it is too moist and sticks to your hands, add more maseca, 1 tbsp at a time.
- Let dough sit for 10 minutes.
- Shred the mozzarella.
- Drain the feta cheese and crumble it into the smallest crumbs possible.
- In a bowl, combine both cheeses together.
- Add finely chopped pepper and parsley.
- Combine everything together using your hands. Squeeze the mixture together until you can roll it all into a ball.
- Add 1 tbsp of canola oil to pan or griddle and preheat over medium-high heat.
- Prepare your pupusas following the instructions below.
- Add pupuasas to grill, cooking for about 5 minutes or until browned. The cheese might start oozing out in some spots – that’s ok.
- Flip and finish cooking on the other side.
- Serve hot with salsa and curtido.
HOW TO MAKE A PUPUSA
- Take one of the balls and lightly flaten it onto your palm, but not completely flat. You want some thickness in it.
- Take two or three fingers and press into the dough, making a little “pocket.”
- Take 1 TBSP of the filling and place it into the “pocket.”
- Using your fingertips, bring the outer edges of the pupusa and fold over the filling. You don’t want to mess this up because at this stage (once the filling has been placed) it is too late to start over.
- Using your thumb and index finger, lightly round out the edge of the pupusas, all the way around until you have a nice round shape.
- Once rounded out to your liking, flaten the pupusas pressing them back and forth between your two palms.
- Add pupusas to a hot grill greased with canola oil. A griddle works best but a frying pan also works. Let cook until edges start getting crispy and the pupusa is lightly browned. Cheese might start oozing out – that’s good! The oozed out cheese is the BEST part!
- Serve warm with a side of salsa and curtido.