As someone who was born and raised in Southern California I know a thing or two about pupusas. This Salvadorian classic is the gateway of Salvadorian food for most. Pupusas consist of a thick corn tortilla stuffed with various fillings, including veggies, beans, cheese, and meat, then lightly sautéed on a griddle or hot pan. Of course it is served next to, what I consider its co-star, curtido- fragrant, pickled cabbage slaw that is nicely used to help cut through the salty, fried goodness that is pupusaland.
Although pupusas were always familiar to me it was not until my time living in Las Vegas that I tried a Zucchini-stuffed creation. I was instantly hooked. Oh is it good. You would not think it could go together but it does. The zucchini lends this sweetness to the often heavy doughy pupusa, creating this wonderful balance; zucchini’s sweet yin to the oily, crusty dough’s salty yang. Trust me it just works.
-3 medium-sized zucchinis, finely shredded;
-1 carrot, finely shredded;
– ½ onion, thinly sliced;
– 1 garlic clove, chopped or crushed;
– 3 cups of masa harina or prepared masa;
WHAT YOU DO:
In a large saucepan or sauté pan heat up oil on medium heat. Sauté onions until translucent. Add garlic to the pan and sauté until fragrant. Turn heat up to medium-high and add the shredded zucchinis and carrot. Stir and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Continue cooking until zucchinis and carrot are soft. Drain off any excess liquid and let cool.
Filling can be made the night before and refrigerated to cut down on time the day of. Prepare masa according to package directions (I generally add a good splash of oil to the mix to add extra moisture). Separate dough into golf-ball sized balls. Take each ball and with your thumb make an indention in the ball forming a bowl. Spoon about ½ tablespoon of filling into the center of the dough. Wrap dough around the filling, making sure the filing is sealed within the pupusa.*
Heat a small amount of oil in a sauté pan. Place pupusa in pan and sauté on each side until golden brown and delicious, about 3-4 minutes. You want to make sure there is a nice crisp to it. If making a large batch, place pupusas on a baking sheet and keep in a warm oven until ready to serve. To serve, simply place 1 (or 5) on a plate with curtido. Nom nom nom nom nom.
*This takes practice. The main thing is to make sure the filling will not leak out while it cooks. If the dough is not circular, I say so be it. It will still taste delicious. Another (unauthentic)method I have tried is to make a very thin layer of dough and cup it in my hand, scoop the filling, place another thin layer of dough on top, then pinch the layers together to insure the filling stays inside (kind of like a pie). Traditional — probably not but at least the filling stays inside the pupusa.
– ½ head of cabbage;
– ½ white onion;
– 1 generous teaspoon of oregano;
– ½ cup of white or apple cider vinegar;
– ½ cup of water;
WHAT YOU DO:
Either by hand or using a food processor (psst, food processor) finely shred cabbage, carrots, and onion. Place in a large mixing bowl and add enough boiling water to completely submerge the vegetables. Let sit for five minutes then drain completely. I like to press down on the veggie mixture to ensure successful drainage has occurred. Return back to bowl and add oregano, vinegar, water and salt. Mix thoroughly and place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. The longer it sits the better it tastes.