A hand-made masa flat bread stuffed with cheese, refried beans, meat, or all of the above. From El Salvador.
Earlier today, I was looking for ways to dispose of a cabbage that had turned up in the fridge. (I haven't bought cabbage in years..wonder where these cabbages keep coming from.)
Turning to my trusty World Vegetarian, I found Madhur Jaffrey's recipe for Curtido, a spicy sour cabbage salad with oregano. She suggested that it be served with pupusas. So I googled pupusas, and found a recipe. Pupusas are remarkably similar to the Indian stuffed breads, the only major difference being the use of masa instead of wheat flour.
Here's my slightly modified version of the original recipe.
2 cups masa harina
1 teaspoon salt
1 tsp toasted, ground cumin
4 oz coarsely grated cheese (Queso fresco or cheddar)
Oil or cooking spray
To serve on the side: Curtido
Take the masa, salt and cumin in a mixing bowl. Slowly add about 1-2 cups of warm water and make a soft dough. Try to use as much water as you can- masa keeps absorbing water if given time. It really helps with the rolling. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for half an hour.
Divide the dough into 10 balls. Flatten the balls to make small, smooth patties. Keep them covered. Keep a bowl of lukewarm water nearby.
Cup one palm slightly and dampen it with the lukewarm water. Take one piece of dough and press down on it until you have a 3-inch round. If the edges break, fix them with dampened fingers. Now put about 1-2 tablespoons of the cheese in the center of the round. Bring the edges of the round together over the top of the cheese and form a ball. Press down on the ball gently to make a patty.
Gently roll out the patty to a 5-6 inch round, like a thick tortilla. Use a tortilla press if you have one. I wrapped my heavy rolling surface in plastic wrap, put the patty on top, put another sheet of plastic wrap on top, and used a rolling pin. It worked beautifully.
Cook the pupusas on a hot griddle, using a little oil/spray on each side if needed. I found that after the first pupusa, I did not need to use oil. The cheese erupted in little volcanoes on top of the pupusa, turning into crisp bits of grilled cheese when I turned the pupusa over. (Something tells me my pupusas were too thin.)
Repeat until you have all the pupusas. Serve warm with the cabbage salad.
These were delicious. Next time I plan to use a combination of cheese and beans and make thicker pupusas.