Pupusas- Salvadoran Stuffed Tortillas with Spicy Slaw

These little gems are as much fun to make as they are to eat.  Wait, that sounds like an old commercial.  But, if you are looking for a low cost meal you hit the jackpot.  I first saw pupusas at the DC United Soccer game.  There was a little stand in the stadium that sold them and the line was long, very long.  Any food that was attracting that much attention was defiantly getting mine.

I waited in the long line and bought two with a side of slaw for my husband.  I’m always hesitant to jump into something I don’t know all of the ingredients when I’m out, so he was the taste tester.  I am very sensitive to gluten and even one crumb will do me in for a week.  After my long wait in line, I returned to a very hungry husband and he was thrilled with the pupusas.  He gave me that look.  You know the one with the puppy dog eyes that melts me, and asked if I could make them.  Ok, the look was probably all in my head but he knows I’ll try to make just about anything.

Pupusas     ©Diane Ebiln

Pupusas ©Diane Eblin

Pupusas were invented in Salvador and were brought to the US when many left their country to live here.  Pupusas are typically filled with cheese, beans, pork or all three.  I’ve also seen where people use shrimp, loroco (tasty green flower blossom), chicken, fish and even pumpkin or squash for vegan and vegetarian options. They are gluten free as the flour is made from corn treated with lime and can be made dairy free if you leave out the cheese.

I’ve been living gluten free since February 2007 and there are some things I miss.  I don’t really bake and don’t buy the processed breads and pastries, most contain rice which I can’t eat.  So I miss having a doughy tasty bundle in my hands like a burger on a brioche bun or a traditional calzone.  These pupusas have filled that gap for me.  They are warm, savory and doughy.  Of course, now I have to experiment with all types of fillings.  I’m going to try diced apples with a little cinnamon this weekend for dessert when we have friends over for dinner.  We’ll either have a tasty treat or strange looks.

I’ve had bags of the MASECA around to make tortillas.  One day while reading the bottom of the bag it listed all the different foods you can make with this corn.  Tortillas, Tamales, Empanadas, Atoles (hot beverage), Gorditas, Sopes and Pupusas.  I thought this was a sign and I should get busy cooking.  Since it is a stuffed tortilla, I basically used the same recipe for tortillas that is on the bag for the dough.  I had made a pork mixture that I used for the filling.

I will also be making some with beans so my vegetarian son can enjoy these.  I definitely need to make some big batches and freeze these to pop out and eat for lunches or when I don’t want to cook.  They are typically served with curtido, a colorful pickled vegetable mixture of cabbage, carrots, and onion, and spicy red sauce.  I made my own version of spicy slaw while the pupusas were cooking and served them with salsa and Tabasco.

If you live near a Shoppers grocery store, they are selling these 4.4 lb bags 2 for $5 or $2.50 each.  With the help of my extremely gifted in math son Brad, we calculated that each batch of 16 pupusas costs $0.38 to make plus the cost of the filling.  I only used a TB of meat in each one I made but I didn’t weigh that out so I can’t give you a total cost per batch of 16.   With the ground pork costing $2.25 per pound it’s not going to be very much.   I’m guessing around $0.10 each.  So you can stuff yourself for less than $2 and that includes the slaw!

Ingredients:

2 cups Instant Corn Masa Flour or Masa Harina like MASECA (DO NOT substitute plain corn flour or corn meal)
1 ¼ cups water (filtered is best for you)

Pork Filling:
½ – 1 pound ground pork
½ cup minced onion
1-2 TB Paprika
1 TB Smoked paprika
1 TB Cumin
1 TB Ancho chili powder
½ cup Vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Virgin organic coconut oil

Directions:

Mix the flour and water together.  You want the dough to be soft.  If feels dry add more water, a little at a time.  Divide the dough into 16 equal ball portions and cover with either plastic wrap or a damp cloth so they retain their moisture.

While that waits sauté the onion until it is soft.  Add in the pork and cook through.  Add in the seasonings and vinegar.  Once this is combined, take it off the heat.  You can put it into a separate bowl to help it cool off a little.

Now it’s time to prepare the pupusas.  Heat your pan to medium high and add in a little oil.  Keep a bowl of water near by.  Keeping your hands wet makes all the difference in the world.  Take a portion of the dough and start to make a little cup with your thumb.  It works best if you keep the dough going in a circular motion.  The dough should end up ¼ thickness.  Put a tablespoon of meat into the center and then close up the dough.  Now here is where mine don’t always turn out looking just right so I’m going to practice more.  Your goal is to have the filling stay in the middle and not break out of the dough and to end up with a round piece of dough like a stuffed tortilla.  So far mine has ended up looking like a half moon.  The shape does not alter the taste so don’t let this deter you.  Once you taste one of these gems you won’t care what shape it takes.

Toss it into the pan and cook up on both sides until brown.  This doesn’t take long, about 3-5 minutes on the first side and 1-3 minutes on the second side.  You really want to make sure to serve the pupusas warm so have a cookie sheet in the oven on 250 degrees that you can toss yours onto.  That is if you don’t eat them as you make them.

Add a side of spicy slaw and red sauce and let your mouth do a little happy dance.

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20 Responses to Pupusas- Salvadoran Stuffed Tortillas with Spicy Slaw

  1. Diane Eblin May 14, 2009 at 9:56 am #

    Rachel- I hope you'll pass that garlic pizza recipe along for tomorrows Friday Foodie Fix. As for the coconut oil I can find it in my local Giant Food Store so it's not limited to health food stores. If you don't have it you can always substitute canola or olive oil.
    Wendy- Please do let me know how you like them and what you fill yours with.
    Thank you both for taking the time to comment.

  2. WendyGK May 14, 2009 at 12:10 pm #

    You know how we always say we need to try a recipe and then never do it. This is a recipe that I need to try right away. I agree with you about missing the doughy, savory thing the most. I don't miss sweets. Never really ate much. So sick of rice flour and the gluey xanthan gum textures. I'll let you know how mine turn out.

  3. WendyGK May 14, 2009 at 4:10 pm #

    You know how we always say we need to try a recipe and then never do it. This is a recipe that I need to try right away. I agree with you about missing the doughy, savory thing the most. I don’t miss sweets. Never really ate much. So sick of rice flour and the gluey xanthan gum textures. I’ll let you know how mine turn out.

  4. Rachel May 14, 2009 at 2:31 pm #

    Maybe I'll make this tonight instead of my previous casein loaded roasted garlic pizza. I'll have to see if I have access to coconut oil. Wonder if my local health food store sells it.

  5. Rachel May 14, 2009 at 6:31 pm #

    Maybe I’ll make this tonight instead of my previous casein loaded roasted garlic pizza. I’ll have to see if I have access to coconut oil. Wonder if my local health food store sells it.

  6. Diane Eblin May 14, 2009 at 6:56 pm #

    Rachel- I hope you’ll pass that garlic pizza recipe along for tomorrows Friday Foodie Fix. As for the coconut oil I can find it in my local Giant Food Store so it’s not limited to health food stores. If you don’t have it you can always substitute canola or olive oil.
    Wendy- Please do let me know how you like them and what you fill yours with.
    Thank you both for taking the time to comment.

  7. Alisa - Frugal Foodi May 14, 2009 at 4:29 pm #

    I hadn't heard of these, but they sound great! I will put them on my list of to tries. That spicy slaw sounds yummy too, love that it doesn't use mayo.

  8. Alisa - Frugal Foodie May 14, 2009 at 8:29 pm #

    I hadn’t heard of these, but they sound great! I will put them on my list of to tries. That spicy slaw sounds yummy too, love that it doesn’t use mayo.

  9. gfe-gluten free easi May 17, 2009 at 3:48 pm #

    Oh, my, Diane, these look out of this world! I'm adding them to my "to do" list. Masa Harina is readily available, even at my lowly Food Lion. GF friends use it all the time to make homemade tortillas. Another friend uses it to thicken her chili when it's not quite the consistency she'd like. Yet another friend makes empanadas. I know both my husband and I will love these–thanks so much!
    Shirley

  10. gfe-gluten free easily May 17, 2009 at 7:48 pm #

    Oh, my, Diane, these look out of this world! I’m adding them to my “to do” list. Masa Harina is readily available, even at my lowly Food Lion. GF friends use it all the time to make homemade tortillas. Another friend uses it to thicken her chili when it’s not quite the consistency she’d like. Yet another friend makes empanadas. I know both my husband and I will love these–thanks so much!
    Shirley

  11. Heather January 4, 2010 at 11:23 am #

    I finally got a chance to try your recipe over the holidays, and used it for Adopt a GF Blogger this month. (http://celiacfamily.com/menu-plan-jan-4-2010/) My husband and I really enjoyed the pupusas. I especially liked the spicy slaw. I even used the leftover pork and slaw wrapped up together in rice papers for a great lunch.

    • Diane January 5, 2010 at 11:13 am #

      Heather- Wow thank you for adopting my recipes!!! I love the idea of the wraps too. Good thinking. Your pupusas look great. You did a really good job with getting them round and flat. Love the addition of cheese. Wish I could have a little sometimes. Now if you're into beans, they are often filled with beans and cheese. So I can't wait to see what you start making with cabbage now. :-) Thank you for all the kind words in your post. I think I'm going to have to make these again real soon.

  12. Heather January 4, 2010 at 4:23 pm #

    I finally got a chance to try your recipe over the holidays, and used it for Adopt a GF Blogger this month. (http://celiacfamily.com/menu-plan-jan-4-2010/) My husband and I really enjoyed the pupusas. I especially liked the spicy slaw. I even used the leftover pork and slaw wrapped up together in rice papers for a great lunch.

    • Diane January 5, 2010 at 3:13 pm #

      Heather- Wow thank you for adopting my recipes!!! I love the idea of the wraps too. Good thinking. Your pupusas look great. You did a really good job with getting them round and flat. Love the addition of cheese. Wish I could have a little sometimes. Now if you’re into beans, they are often filled with beans and cheese. So I can’t wait to see what you start making with cabbage now. :-) Thank you for all the kind words in your post. I think I’m going to have to make these again real soon.

  13. jbaker2476@gmail.com February 26, 2011 at 10:59 pm #

    please somebody tell me where i can order loroco. i've been looking all over and cant find where.

  14. b henry January 22, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

    When you make the cup with the masa dough and roll it up around the filling, twist off a pinch of the masa at the top and then pinch around the dough in a circle before you slap it a few times to get the final thickness. There's a lot of videos on-line which show this procedure and even a gringo can make authentic looking ones.

    • Diane Eblin February 2, 2012 at 8:00 am #

      Thank you for the tip! I'm going to give that a try this week for sure.

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