Introduction to the pupusa: El Salvador’s national dish

Introduction to the pupusa: El Salvador’s national dish

Today is a special day in the gastronomy of my country (El Salvador), today is the national day of pupusas; we leave the sweet aside and pay homage to such a delicious typical dish that today I want to share with everyone.

The pupusas, declared culinary heritage of El Salvador, their name comes from the Nahuatl word “pupushawa” which means “swollen”. Every second Sunday of November, since 2005, and by decree of the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador, the national day of the pupusa is celebrated, in honor of the gastronomic culture of the Salvadoran people.

And what are pupusas? For those who don’t know them, I’ll explain: they consist of a tortilla (approximately 15 cm in diameter) made with white corn flour or rice flour, which can be filled with one or several combined ingredients. . The traditional ingredients are cheese, crushed purple beans (known in my country as “frijoles”), chicharrón (pork fat), squash (a vegetable similar to zucchini) and lorocos , some aromatic flowers that give it an exquisite touch.

Today, pupusas have evolved in terms of size and ingredients used, there are those who make them with chicken, egg, shrimp, crab, fish, chorizo, salami, etc., although I did not get to try any of these ” modern versions ” . I prefer to keep it traditional so I always use only beans, cheese and loroco flower, below I will explain how to make them, it goes without saying that their ingredients are gluten free.


Ingredients for the filling ( approx 12 pupusas ):

  • 250 gr of purple beans
  • 1 liter of water
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 green pepper
  • garlic to taste
  • olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • 100 gr grated mozzarella cheese
  • loroco flowers (optional)

For the mass:

3 glasses of lukewarm water

3 glasses of cornmeal ( MASECA or DOÑAREPA brand are gluten-free)

Preparing the filling:

We will have to do is cook the beans (beans) in plenty of water, add the salt, the onion and the pepper chopped into large piece. The garlic (if they are small, put 1/2 head. If they are very large with about 4 cloves ok) and cook until soft.

Once cooked, grind them with a blender until they are very fine. Then fry them in a little oil for about 15 or 20 minutes. You must stir constantly to prevent them from sticking in the pan. By frying them you will subtract moisture, they have become too liquid, the idea is that they remain a little hard, with the consistency of pate.

Once fried, reserve them at room temperature until they cool completely. Grate a little cheese of your choice, ” quesillo ” is usually used, a Salvadoran cheese that melts. But since here in Spain there is no such cheese, I use mozzarella or provolone , they are still very good. As I have a few loroco flowers in reserve that I brought from the last time I traveled to my country. I have put a few finely chopped.

Once the filling ingredients are ready, proceed to prepare the dough, for this, mix the cornmeal with the warm water in the same proportions, with the help of your fingers knead until it has taken consistency, it may seem very difficult at first. soft.

To form the pupusa, take a bit of dough (whatever you hold with your fist) and form a ball. Hollow out the center as if you were making a bowl, fill with whatever you want (cheese, beans, etc.) either in one ingredient or combined. And close again as if you were making a bun, then carefully crush until it is shaped like a pancake. Cook them on the grill or in the pan on both sides until they are done.

Ready Pupusa

They can be taken alone, but typically they are accompanied by curtido. Which is nothing more than finely chopped cabbage, carrots and onions pickled in vinegar. Optionally, it can also be accompanied by tomato sauce, everyone makes it as they think. The truth is that there is no classic recipe, some even prefer it with a touch of spiciness.

For those who do not know them or have not prepared them before. I invite you to try it at home. We usually take them very often (in my own way of course). Despite not having all the authentic ingredients; In any case. Pupusas have always been and will always be part of my meals. Well they say that where there are Salvadorans, there are pupusas!!
The pupusa is a thick handmade corn or rice dough-based tortilla that is filled with one or more ingredients.

The typical fillings for a pupusa are cheese, beans, and pork rinds; the chicharrón that is used is more like ground pork and not the skin of the pig as in Mexico.

Other fillings include squash and loroco, a plant whose flower is eaten and has a very strong aroma.

Something that I have realized is that the pupusa can be vegetarian and gluten-free since most of the fillings are vegetables.

Also, pupusas made from rice flour are gluten-free.

These are accompanied by a cooked tomato sauce and curtido, which is cabbage along with carrots, chili peppers and oregano in vinegar. Something not traditional, but it is also delicious to eat pupusas with cream.

The traditional way to eat a pupusa is with your hands and without using cutlery, but it is acceptable to use them if the person wishes.


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