Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Day 53! El Salvador(San Salvador)(NA) - Pupusas and Salsa Roja - Up Next, Equatorial Guinea(AF)

What better way to celebrate the last day of summer before school starts, than with lunch from El Salvador?

I decided to make Pupusas, the national dish of El Salvador, which holds such a position of culinary honor that there's actually a day named for it. Pupusas, which are very much like corn tortillas, except that they're stuffed with cheese, meat or beans are typically served with Curtido, a cabbage coleslaw or Salsa Roja, which is what I decided to make to use up some of the bushels of tomatoes I suddenly have.

Several weeks ago I bought some frozen Pupusas at a tropical market, but they were bland and boring, so I wanted to try to improve on this traditional El Salvadorian staple, which I think I did.

 Pictured to the left is South America as seen on my wall map. El Salvador is located along the Pacific Coast up in the left hand corner next to Honduras and Costa Rica. It's cuisine has Spanish and indigenous Mayan influences. Foods most relied upon include corn, bean, squash and tomatoes.
My local Market Basket Basket offers a huge selection of Latin American food and produce

Mix up the Masa Harina with water and kneed gently, roll into a log and cut into 8 pieces

Shape into balls

Roll out into circles with a rolling pin or tortilla press (I don't have one yet, but I WILL!)

I used a combination of Quesso Fresco and Swiss cheese along with minced scallions to add zip

Salsa Roja - fresh tomatoes, garlic, onion, cilantro and a little hot pepper

Seasoned with finishing salt crystal - crunchy and beautiful

Pupusas and Salsa Roja for lunch

Pineapple - indigenous to El Salvador - for dessert
Recipes (from: www.whats4eats.com)

Makes 4-5 pupusas

  • 2 Cups Masa harina
  • 1 Cup warm water
  • 1 Cup filling

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the masa harina and water and knead well. Knead in more water, one tablespoon at a time if needed to make make a moist, yet firm dough - It should not crack at the edges when you press down on it. Cover and set aside for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Roll the dough into a log and cut into 8 equal portions. Roll each potion into a ball.
  3. Press an indentation in each ball with your thumb. Put about 1 tablespoon of filling into each indentation and fold the dough over to completely enclose it. Press the ball out with your palms to form a disc, taking care that the filling doesn't spill out.
  4. Line a tortilla press with plastic and press out each ball to about 5-6 inches wide and about 1/4-inch thick. If you don't have a tortilla press, place the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap or waz paper and roll it out with a rolling pin.
  5. Heat an un-greased skillet over medium-high heat. Cook each pupusas for about 1-2 minutes on each side, until lightly browned and blistered. 
  6. Remove to plate and keep warm until all are done.

Salsa Roja

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 Serrano or jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 Cups tomatoes - seeded, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 cilantro or parsley

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium flame. Add the onion, garlic and chili and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.
  2. Stir in the tomatoes and oregano and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool a bit.
  3. Puree the tomato sauce in a blender until smooth, adding a little water if needed. 
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste, stir in cilantro or parsley.

Final Assessment: This is wonderful comfort food - The corn meal has a very distinctive flavor, and the combination of Queso Fresco, Swiss cheese and scallions was savory and tasty. I deviated from the Salsa Roja recipe and did NOT cook the salsa. My tomatoes and herbs are so fresh right now, that I couldn't bring myself to cook them...either way, the salsa add zip and color to the pupsas. A


Mary Trelease Beaudet said...

Finally, a good way to use up all the tomatoes, hot peppers and cilantro from my garden! Looks yummy Sarah!

Karen said...

didn't we just have pupusas : ;) looks awesome as always hon....