This is a recipe from Episode 5 of the 'How to eat alone' podcast. You can listen to the episode here.
In Episode 5 of the 'How to eat alone' podcast, I interview high altitude mountain guide, Gareth Wright, who spent a few years working as a guide in Antigua, Guatemala, leading groups up volcano, Acatenango. He tells me a story of the pupuseria he would visit on returning from his hikes, but pupusas are not Guatemalan at all - they are Salvadorean (actually, there's some debate as to whether they originated in Honduras, but that's another story). The pupuseria in Antigua was run by a Salvadorean couple who ended up in Guatemala, and I'm really excited to share (a very inauthentic) pupusas with you. This recipe makes 4-5 pupusas, they're actually easier than I thought they would be to make and you would usually eat them with curtido, which is like a Central American kimchi/slaw kind of thing - pupusas and curtido are good for lunch or dinner, but pupusas also work really well with a salad. Because I am absolutely not from El Salvador, I watched plenty of videos on how you make these, in particular this video here from Curly and his abuelita. Enjoy them, they're like really fun fritters - you can fill them with whatever you like, just keep the total amount of filling to no more than 170 g (ish).
Time: 20 minutes
Faff Level: 5
Plant Based Diets: The dough itself is plant based, so just fill these with veggies to make these vegan. The only vegan cheese I ever recommend is vegan mozzarella, because it melts well and would work in this recipe.
For the pupusa dough
150 g masa harina OR if you can’t find it, use a combination of 75 g flour and 75 g polenta, which are much easier to find.
If you are using the flour and polenta combination, use 100 g water. If you are using masa harina, you will need about 150 g water.
Salt and pepper
For the filling
Asparagus stems, around 3
Half a shallot
1 spicy chilli, finely chopped, deseeded if you don’t like it spicy (you can also use chilli flakes or even hot sauce)
1 small clove of garlic
90 g blue cheese
Liberal amount of pepper
1. Finely chop and mix all of the filling mixture, or blitz it together in a blender.
2. Using wet hands, mix the flour, water, salt and pepper together so that it is well combined and has the consistency of clay.
3. Keeping your hands wet, divide the dough into 50-60 g balls and flatten them out into thin discs.
4. Add 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of filing into the centre of the corn dough and fold the dough over like you would a ravioli or an empanada.
5. Roll the dough into a ball, then flatten it out again into a disc so the filling is evenly spread throughout the dough (see the video above if you are confused about how to do this).
6. Heat vegetable oil so that it is super hot, then turn the heat down slightly and fry each papusa, for about 2-3 minutes either side. I would use a timer if you have one.
7. Serve with salad, slaw, sauerkraut, kimchi or curtido (see recipe below) and eat hot - they don't keep for more than a day!
For a quick curtido:
Curtido is a cultured slaw, much like sauerkraut or kimchi. You need a few days to get a really authentic curtido going, as it needs to marinade for a while. However, I always forget to prepare it in advance and so end up using this quick recipe which takes about an hour rather than a few days. Makes enough for 3-4 portions and gets better over time, so keep any leftovers and store for about a month. Takes 5 minutes to prepare and is perfect when served alongside pupusas.
Finely chop 1/2 red onion, 2 small carrots, 1/2 a spicy chilli, a big handful of herbs like oregano, mint or coriander, depending on what you have, 1/4 of a small red or white cabbage, then add it all to a bowl and cover with 2 tbsp of cider vinegar, 1 tsp of sugar and 1 tsp of salt. Massage it all in the bowl, making sure to squeeze as much water out of the cabbage as possible. Cover and leave for an hour. It's ready to eat after an hour, but keep it for up to a month so that it can put all those friendly bacteria to work. Store it in an airtight jar and keep in the fridge.