Pupusas are akin to arepas, gorditas, and any number of other regional variations on stuffed, griddled or fried masa cakes. The varieties are endless; the authenticity nuances subtle, but of cultural importance. Given that, I will start by saying that these are NOT authentic, so no mail on that, please. There are regional differences regarding the masa that is used–some is nixtamalated (treated with lime), some is not–the grind, etc. Regardless, use what you have and you will be happy with these fat, crispy little masa sandwiches. I made ours with a two-pound blob of fresh masa dough that I bought from our neighborhood tortilleria:
If you are not lucky enough to have a neighborhood tortilleria, you can buy Maseca Masa Harina in most grocery stores and just mix it with water and knead it to form the dough. The texture will be a little different, but will work well. The non-authentic way to fill the dough is to make two rounds, top them with filling, and press the edges together. Using some plastic wrap to press out the dough helps with this method. That’s what I did:
The authentic way is to press out a large, thin round, place the filling in the center, wrap it into a ball, and press the whole thing down. If I make these about a hundred more times I will probably master that.
For the filling, I thinly sliced eight ounces of cremini mushrooms and three seeded and stemmed jalapeno peppers. I sauteed this mix in a little olive oil with some salt. That’s it. I also added a little shredded cheese on top of each mound of filling, as pictured above. I used a mix of provolone and Gruyere (most inauthentic!). Any melty, mild cheese would work well for the mushroom filling.
Skim the bottom of a skillet with oil and cook the pupusas over medium heat until you get a nice, golden crust on both sides. It helps to press them down with a spatula a few times to really integrate the filling with the dough. Serve them hot with slaw and a nice salsa. We ate ours with the thin, intensely fiery salsa from Las Americas, our neighborhood tortilleria where I bought the masa. My two-pound ball of masa made ten, good-sized pupusas.
There are so many great international dishes that you can make at home with just a few ingredients. Having a bag of masa harina in the pantry is a great way to experiment, and you can fill these with anything. Give them a try and you will see how easy it can be.
Thanks for reading,