Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Pupusas - Stuffed Corn Tortillas

Pupusas are a traditional dish from El Salvador.
Corn tortillas with a filling usually cheese, beans and/or
Salvadoran-style chicharron (finely ground pork).
Plus it's a fun thing to say!

Pupusas are cooked on a griddle and served with a pickled slaw called curtido.
I don't know how these two got together, but it's the perfect combination of flavors.

I first had pupusas when we took a trip to Costa Rica.  A little open air shop where all the little ladies were forming and cooking pupusas.  They allowed me to go 'backstage' so I could see how they were prepared.

There is knack to these, I won't lie, but once you have them, you'll get a craving for them again!
For the Curtido:

1/2 head small cabbage, shredded
1 carrot, grated
1/2 sweet or red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp. each of oregano, red pepper flakes and brown sugar
1/4 tsp. each of cumin and coriander
1 tsp. salt

Combine the vegetables in a large bowl.  In a small saucepan, add the vinegar, water, spices, brown sugar and salt and bring to a boil.
Pour the hot pickling liquid over the vegetables.
Mix well and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
This will keep for 2-3 weeks.


3 lb. pork butt, trimmed and cubed
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
6 cups water
1 15 oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
1/2 tsp. oregano

Season the pork with salt and pepper and place in a medium saucepan.  Add enough water to cover by 2-inches, about 6 cups.  Bring to a simmer and partially cover the pot; cook until the meat is very tender and almost all the liquid is evaporated, about 3 hours.  

I started the pork in my pressure cooker.  After an hour, I put the lid on and finished cooking it under high pressure for 40 minutes.  I did have most of the liquid left in the pot.  I drained all but one cup (which also removed most of the fat).

Meanwhile, combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, jalapeno and oregano in a blender.  Puree until smooth.  Add the tomato mixture to the pork in the saucepan.  Lower the heat and simmer for another 30 minutes, or until pork is falling apart and most of the liquid has reduced from the sauce.  The pork mixture should be very thick.  Set aside to cool.  (This makes more pork than you need for the recipe, but any leftover can be frozen or used in other recipes.  Makes a great filling for tacos, burritos or even on a sandwich mixed with some BBQ sauce).

For the Tortillas:

3-1/2 cups Masa harina
2-1/2 cups warm water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1-1/2 cups shredded Monteray Jack cheese

Combine the masa harina with the warm water and salt.  Mix until a soft dough forms.  Let stand for 20 to 30 minutes.  Stir in up to 1/4 cup of canola until the dough becomes soft but not sticky.  You may need to add a little more water.  You want the dough to be very soft.  It should be the consistency of clay or playdough.   Divide the dough into 16 golf ball size pieces.  Keep the dough covered as you work.

To form a pupusa:  Rub the palm of your hands with a little olive oil.  While holding the dough ball in one hand, press the thumb of your other hand in the middle of the ball of dough to form an indentation, then turning the dough, begin to flatten it with your fingertips into a 4-inch disk resembling a small bowl.  I tried this a few times, but found it easier to flatten the dough on my tortilla press.

  Add 1 heaping tablespoon of the pork and 1/2 tablespoon of shredded cheese.  

Bring the edges of the dough together over the filling and squeeze to form a seal.  Working gently, press the dough into a flattened disk, flattening the dough middle and edges to form a pancake about 4 inches in diameter.

Place pupusas on a heated, greased grilled or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook each side until golden brown in spots and slightly puffy, 3 to 4 minutes per side.  Serve hot, with pickled cabbage on the side.

Portions of this recipe were adapted from
Emeril Lagasse

Sharing with: Weekend Potluck


  1. Hi! I saw your post on the Culinary Content Network FB page and the pictures looked so good! I've seen these being sold at Boulder's Farmers Market here in CO but I've never tried them.
    They sound delicious and something I am going to try and then make!


  2. I've never heard of this dish before, but it looks absolutely fabulous!!! Thanks for sharing, Patti :)

  3. It's a fabulous dish and loved by every traveler to Costa Rica. The restaurants and cafes in Costa Rica proudly offers this wonderful dish with great elan.

  4. I tried these myself on a trip to Costa Rica years ago, delicious! Pinning for future use :)

    Not Your Average Super Moms!


Thank you for visiting!

Artisan Cast Iron Dutch Oven Bread

This recipe is a typical one with two rising periods.  Most of this time it's the yeast working and not you! 2 cups water 1...