A pupusa is a traditional Salvadoran dish made of a thick handmade corn tortilla that is usually filled with a blend of any of the following: cheese, cooked pork, meat ground to a paste texture, refried beans.

This is usually served with curtido, an type of pickled, fermented cabbage and a thin tomato sauce.

Here is my first attempt at trying this out.  I found the trick to forming the discs is to after adding the filling and then reform the ball, and pinch off some dough so the cakes are not overwhelmed by masa.

Moisture is also a key. The dough must have the consistency of Play-Doh and make sure it is not too dry or too wet. Keep sprinkling some of the masa and continue to rework the dough until you get it to the right consistency. I found if it is a little sticky, put some of the masa on your work surface after you have reworked the balls with filling inside and flatten out a bit. Keep practicing until it works. You have to use Masa harina to make this work well.  It is a really easy dough to work with and so easy!


2 cups Masa harina

Warm water, 1 cup

A bit of salt if desired but not necessary

In a large bowl, mix together the masa harina and water and knead well. If dough it too sticky you can add more masa about tablespoon at a time, on the opposite if the dough is too dry add warm water one tablespoon at a time.  Cover and let dough rest for 5-10 minutes, as it will thicken.

On a clean and flat surface, roll the dough into a log and cut into equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball.

Press an indentation with your thumb or a bit larger to accommodate your filling. Put about 1 tablespoon of filling of your choice in or just cheese. Press the ball out with your palms on a floured surface to form a disc, being sure that no filling falls out. Make the disc about ½ inch thick. To make this easier,  you can place the dough between two pieces of plastic or wax paper and roll out with a rolling pin.

Heat a well-greased skillet (cast iron is best). Cook each pupusa for 1-3 minutes or until golden brown with slight bubbles. Try to turn the disc only once. Set aside on a paper towel, then put on a plate and keep warm until all of the discs are done. They can also be frozen if you make a larger batch to keep on hand for a quick meal. Freeze on a baking sheet in a single layer, then transfer to a bag.

I filled with cheese and made it like a flat tostado, and topped with warmed refried beans, cheese, lettuce, avocados with squeezed lime juice and sour cream as that was all I had on hand for a quick meal. I also mixed some of the refried beans and cheese together and stuffed into the ball, to make a disc. Very good! Add some hot sauce for an extra punch.

I will definitely try to make the curtido next time.  A pulled pork filling would be wonderful. You could use a ground pork and mix with a little tomato sauce that has some bacon pulsed in with a food processor. If you make it a kind of paste it will work well when you enclose the ball.

Look for Masa harina in the ethnic aisle or an authentic Mexican food store.



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