One of our assignments this week was to make a delicious meal. Unlike many of my classmates, I am not much of a cook, and I knew I wouldn't get away with pulling something out of the freezer and sticking it in the microwave. I thought long and hard about what I could make that wasn't boring, and I decided to make pupusas. Pupusas are a Salvadoran food, and they are basically filled tortillas, usually with cheese, sometimes with beans, meat, or other fillings. They are delicious, and I had them at least once a week while I was in El Salvador. I had only made pupusas once before, under heavy supervision and help from a Salvadoran woman, so the process was a bit of a challenge, but I managed. Taking photos throughout the process was also a challenge, because my hands were usually covered in masa dough.
There are only three ingredients in these pupusas: masa, beans, and cheese. Masa is just ground up corn (what corn tortillas are made out of). In El Salvador they have a special soft cheese for pupusas, but I'm not even sure what it's called, so I used mozzarella.
I already had this Maseca (dry masa), which I got at a store called Mi Tierra in Berkeley.
There is no exciting story behind this can of beans. I bought it at Haight Street Market (only because I happened to be on Haight Street). Note that it is vegetarian because most refried beans have lard (yuck).
The cheese has the same story as the beans.
And this is how I made the pupusas:
First step: prepare the masa. I mixed some Maseca with water to make the dough. I had to add a little more water than the packaging said to make it the right consistency.
Second step: make the pupusa. First you roll a hunk of masa into a ball.
Then you flatten it into something like a bowl-shape, using a circular motion with your hands to keep it even and round (this is pretty hard, and I definitely don't do it the "right" way). This photo is not a great example of how it should be, but you get the idea:
Put a little bit of beans and cheese in the middle and fold up the sides of the masa to make a closed ball again.
Then you want to flatten that ball, patting it back and forth between your hands.
You have to be careful not to put too much beans, or the masa will break open very easily (which happened to me a lot). When you're handling the masa, you have to wet your hands frequently to keep the dough from sticking to your skin (much).
Third step: cook it. I wasn't sure what temperature to have the pan or how long to cook it, so I improvised. It takes a long time for the masa to cook all the way through, which definitely tested my patience.
I cut up some cherry tomatoes and made a bit of simple guacamole (avocado, lemon juice, salt) to go with the pupusas, and it was all very delicious.
They weren't the same as authentic pupusas, but for gringa pupusas they were pretty yummy!
Andrea liked them:
And so did Melanie:
Overall, it was a delicious success.