How to make Pupusas! Savory, stuffed Salvadorian Corn Cakes filled with refried beans or melty cheese (or both!) with cilantro and scallions. Serve these with Curtido or Mexican Slaw! A simple, easy recipe that is Vegan adaptable!
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A classic Salvadorian dish, Pupusas are griddled corn cakes that can be stuffed with a variety of fillings. Serve them up as a tasty appetizer or a delicious meal with Curtido (a lightly fermented Salvadorian slaw) or Mexican Slaw and optional hot sauce.
Here we’ve stuffed them with refried black beans, cheese, caramelized shallots, cilantro, and scallions, but these could easily be made vegan or feel free to add meat if you like. You’ll love how flexible and adaptable they are, and I know you will come up with your own filling variations! Plus, they are just fun to make!
The earthy, crispy pupusas are nicely balanced with refreshing, lightly fermented slaw, called Curtido.
It starts with masa harina or corn flour. FYI, Polenta ( or cornmeal) is not the same as corn flour- it is not as fine- so be sure you are using corn flour, not cornmeal.
Make a simple dough mixing warm water, oil, salt and masa harina corn flour.
Form into equal-sized balls. Flatten into disks and add fillings.
Above I’ve tried a vegan, black bean version with shallots, scallions, and cilantro.
And here I’ve filled with cheese. You can also use vegan cheese.
My favorite is a combination of all – black beans, cheese, shallots, cilantro, and scallions….so tasty!
Pull the edges up around the filling to form a ball. It’s easiest to just do this in the palm of your hand ( but I was photographing).
With greased hand form a smooth ball ( the filling is inside), then flatten to create a 4-inch wide cake, about ½ in thick.
TIP: You’ll know the masa cakes have the right moisture content if the edges don’t crack. See recipe notes for an easy “test”.
Then just pan sear each side for 5-7 minutes, or until golden and crispy and insides are warm and melty. Keep in a warm oven until ready to serve.
Give Pupusas a try this weekend!
How to make Pupusas!
Pupusa Recipe – a simple step by step guide to making griddled Salvadorian masa cakes filled with your choice of refried beans or cheese (or both!) with cilantro and scallions. Easy and delicious! Vegan adaptable!
- Prep Time: 30
- Cook Time: 15 mins
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 8 cakes 1x
- Category: appetizer, main
- Method: Stove top
- Cuisine: South American
- 2 cups masa harina corn flour (corn meal or polenta is not the same)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or melted butter
- 1 ⅔ cups warm water
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
Fillings: (see notes)
- ½ –1 cup shredded cheese- mozzarella or jack
- ½ –1 cup refried beans ( homemade or out of a can)
- 1 shallot, diced & sautéed
- 1–2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1–2 scallions, finely sliced
Mix the masa harina flour with salt in a medium bowl. Add the warm water and oil and kneed until it becomes a pliable dough. ( see notes)
Fill a bowl with warm water ( for hand dipping) with a tiny splash of olive oil.
Prepare your fillings, gathering them around. If using the shallot, finely chop and saute until deeply golden and tender.
Dip your hands in the oiled water, divide the dough in half. Then form 4 equal-sized balls ( with each half), a total of eight similar-sized balls, dipping your hands in the water as needed to prevent sticking.
Flatten a ball into a 4 inch round in the palm of your greased hand, creating a cup. (TIP: If the edges crack or crumble, the dough needs a little more water.)
Place a little of the filling inside (1 tablespoon beans, 1 tablespoon cheese, 1 teaspoon shallots, cilantro and scallions) and fold the edges up and around up to enclose. Roll into a neat, sealed round ball.
Heat 1-2 tablespoons oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Cook each side until crispy and golden, about 5-7 minutes, each side. Keep warm in an oven until serving.
To test the dough for the right water content, form a ball the size of a golf ball. Flatten, if edges split or crack, you may want to add little more water. Alternatively, if dough feels sticky add little more corn flour.
You can keep these totally vegan by leaving out the cheese ( or using a meltable vegan cheese).
I like the combination of using both beans and cheese, along with the shallots, cilantro and scallions. Up to you. You can keep them kid friendly by just using cheese.
Make a double batch, saving leftovers to be reheated for another meal.
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