Pupusa is a really fun word to say, and an even more delicious meal to eat! I absolutely love these pockets of joy hailing from El Salvador.
I started making pupusas back in my days as an after school program cooking teacher - picky middle schoolers would never complain about something stuffed with cheese, and making ethnic food provides a great opportunity to have a conversation about the amazing diversity of cultures living in our world!
Pupusas come in many forms, the most basic of which is just masa (what is used to make corn tortillas) stuffed with grated cheese, but you can make them with anything you please! Other favorites of mine include black beans and cheese, refried beans, or pork carnitas.
So here it goes, simple as can be!
First, you take a ball of masa in your hand.
Then, you flatten that ball out into a rough disk using your hands.
Pile in some cheese, and anything else you want to stuff in there!
Then carefully close in the filling and flatten the masa, keeping the filling inside!
I have to say, I got SO excited to make pupusas a few weeks ago when my babes and I first discovered that Three Sisters Nixtamal sells their fresh masa all over the city. We've been making the dried masa harina version of these and homemade corn tortillas for years, but fresh masa opens a whole new world of delicious! If you can get your hands on some, I highly recommend you make these with fresh masa. If you cannot, still make them... because they'll be delicious no matter what!
I'm also including my favorite (and super easy) slaw to serve with these pupusas as well as stuffed in tacos and plenty of other places! The slaw is really simple to make, but super fresh with purple cabbage, carrots, and an apple cider vinegar and lime juice dressing. I like to pile a massive heap of this goodness on top of my pupusas (then usually, pile on even more as I make my way through the meal). What can I say, I'm a big fan of purple cabbage!
Of course, pupusas' simplicity makes them great for all sorts of added toppings. Avocados, salsa, and black beans are always good options!
Simple Cheese Pupusas
fresh masa or 3 cups masa harina (I like Bob's Red Mill!)
grated cheddar cheese
high heat oil (like canola)
- If using masa harina, you'll start by making your dough. In a medium bowl, stir masa harina with 1 3/4 cups warm water until all of the flour has been absorbed. You may need to use your hands to finish it off. The masa will be the texture of play-dough. Let sit for about 30 minutes before making your pupusas.
- To make the pupusas, make a ball of masa in your hands about the size of a golf ball. Flatten it down as much as you can with your hands, until you have a rough disk of dough. Place as much cheese as you can and any other fillings you want to use on top of your disk. Squeeze the top together to seal in the fillings, and flatten the dough back into a disk making sure to keep the fillings sealed in!
- Repeat the above step until you've used all of your masa (or made as many pupusas as you want to eat!).
- Place a medium frying pan over medium heat, allowing it to warm for a few minutes. When the pan is hot, pour in enough oil to create a 1/8 inch of so layer at the bottom of the pan. Fry pupusas for a few minutes on each side, until they reach a golden brown.
- Serve immediately with my purple cabbage slaw, avocados, beans, or anything else you wish!
Purple Cabbage and Carrot Slaw
1/2 small head of purple cabbage, shredded
2 medium carrots, grated or julienned.
1/2 small red onion, sliced thinly
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp dried oregano
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 tsp brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
- Simply stir together all ingredients in a medium bowl, and let sit for about 30 minutes before eating.