Pupusas are the typical dish of El Salvador and very popular in Honduras. These delicacies show the versatility of corn as a basic product in the cuisine of Mesoamerican countries. They could be compared to Mexican corn gorditas or stuffed arepas, but the fillings and methods of preparation are different. The main difference is that the pupusas are stuffed before cooking, and the gorditas and arepas are stuffed after they are cooked. This gives the pupusas a rich combination of corn flavor mixed with the filling with which it is cooked, commonly cheese, beans or pork rinds.
The word pupusa comes from the Nahuatl word “popotlax”, where “popotl” means big, stuffed, bulging, and “tlaxkalli” is a corn dough tortilla.
The versatility of pupusas is incredible and it continues to be reinvented with the modern kitchen. But in traditional pupusas, there are basic filling ingredients such as cheese, refried beans, chicharrón and loroco (an edible flower native to the region), but over time, they have spread and combined with other ingredients such as chorizo, potato, chicken, squash, chipilín (a leafy green native to Central America and Southern Mexico) and even fish or shrimp. In El Salvador, they are made with corn flour and some variants use rice flour, but this recipe uses corn flour.
The Tropical Queso Fresco Salvadoreño is essential to fill and mix with the dough before cooking and as a tasty topping, together with Crema Centroamericana Tropical. Besides the cheese and cream, they are always topped with “curtido”, a coleslaw prepared with cabbage, carrot, a bit of onion and oregano fermented in vinegar.
You can eat the pupusas with your hands to enjoy them in the authentic way, but if you prefer cutlery, you will enjoy them just the same. They are traditionally broken open with your hands and the toppings (cheese, cream and curtido) are placed in the center to enjoy them open faced.
There are countless ways to accompany pupusas, you can create your favorite and experiment with your family’s favorite ingredients.
Let’s make some pupusas!
Serving Suggestion: Traditionally, pupusas are served with Curtido (Salvadoran coleslaw), Crema Salvadoreña, and salsa roja (red sauce).