Thank God corn is naturally gluten-free. I mean seriously, despite not being able to eat wheat, we can still eat tacos and nachos and tamales. And pupusas. What’s that you say? You’ve never heard of pupusas? Dios mio! Well let me introduce the two of you!
Pupusas are the Salvadoran equivalent to a hot pocket. They’re seriously some of the easiest things one can make. The dough for pupusas is incredibly simple. Masa harina (corn flour), hot water and salt. No seriously, it’s that simple. In addition, the dough is 100% vegan! Then you form the dough into balls, make an indentation, and then add a few tablespoons for your favorite filling. Meat, refried beans, or simply cheese are all excellent choices. Then the super fun part. You get to play with your food! Close the hole at the top of the dough, pat it flat with your hands, and then grill it. That easy.
I used Maseca masa harina almost exclusively for my pupusas. This corn flour is certified gluten-free by GFCO, which helps to put this gluten-free gal’s mind at ease. Why is it important? Not all “naturally” gluten-free flours are prepared in dedicated gluten-free facilities. Other flours, some of which contain gluten, can be processed on the same lines. Therefore, I follow the advice of Tricia Thompson of Gluten-Free Watchdog and only buy flours that say “gluten-free” on the package, and are preferably certified. Read about the study she did on the matter.
I digress. Let’s get back to these cooking these pupusas. I cook mine on a well-oiled cast iron griddle. It’s big enough so that I can cook two pupusas at a time. Plus, they cook quickly so dinner (or midnight snack) is in your hands in no time. Cook them three to four minutes on each side, and then be prepared for savory, hand-held deliciousness. I particularly like the pupusas pictured above. See the one on the top right? Some of the cheese oozed out and I SWEAR it looks like it’s sticking it’s tongue out at me. That’s okay. I got his number.
Traditional Salvadoran pupusas are served with curtido. It’s a vinegar-based coleslaw that is made out of cabbage, carrots, onion, sugar and seasonings. (No eggs or dairy!) If you’re serving these to impress friends, TOTALLY make the curtido. However, I like to make a batch of these and freeze them. They’re great handheld meals that I can stick into my husband’s lunch. (As are the onigiri I make for him.) While the cheese ones are good, I try to make them with meat if I can. However, you can stuff these babies with anything you like. Vegetarian? I bet these would be GREAT with jackfruit!
Dough Recipe for Pupusas
(Taken from TheKitchn.com)
2 cups masa harina
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 c. warm water
grated Cheese or other fillings
1. Combine masa, salt and water. Knead until you get a small ball of dough. Return dough to bowl and cover with a towel. Allow to rest for 10 minutes to allow moisture to be full absorbed.
2. While dough is resting, oil and preheat griddle
3. Finally, form dough into 6-8 small balls. (Depends on how large you want your pupusas.) Make an indent in the center and form a hole. Stuff the whole with 1-2 tbsp of filling. Close hole and pat pupusa flat.
4. Cook pupusas 3-4 minutes per side on your well-oiled griddle. Serve with a side of salsa and/or curtido. (Curtido recipe can be found on TheKitchn.)