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Aug 18, 2008 07:00 AM

pupusa guidance

Are there any pupusa experts out there? I made them yesterday, and they were good but not as thin and crispy as the pupusas I've had out. I used reconstituted masa for tortillas, took a ball a bit larger than a ping pong ball, sort of flattened it, and then put in some beans and cheese. I enclosed the filling to make a ball shape, and flatted the ball by sort of slapping it back and forth, with some oil on my hands, after watching youtube videos. Then I cooked them on a lightly oiled griddle over medium heat.

When forming them, they cracked so that some of the filling showed through, even after I added some more water to the masa. Also, the edges seemed a bit thick and bland, and the filling seemed to stay more to one side instead of spreading out. They were still tasty, and I'll make them again, but would like to fine-tune them a bit. I served them with curtido, guacamole, salsa and carnitas.

Any hints would be appreciated, as well as tips on gorditas, sopes, or any other masa-based treats.

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  1. Did you use any lard when reconstituting the masa? That should help the texture, consistency, flavor, and prevent cracking.

    1. All I can do is wish you luck. My husband says that, in over 15 years together, he can still count on one hand the number of wholly inedible meals I've made him. Pupusas were one of them. Technically, he didn't really get to taste them to determine they were inedible--he just listened to me curse as they fell apart all the way to the counter to the griddle to the table, and he wisely picked up the phone to order pizza after I gave up and flung the tatters in the trash.

      I decided that I'd leave pupusas and such-like to more skilled hands than mine (fortunately, there are a few of those at my neighborhood pupusarias). Bravo to you that you seem to have done better already than I ever did!

      1. Thanks for the replies.

        MsMaryMc, thanks for the laughs, although I'm sure you didn't feel too much like laughing at the time! I've had a few meltdowns when my meals have been total disasters, that's for sure. Actually, the one and only other time I tried to make pupusas a couple of years ago, I didn't realize that the masa was somewhat, shall we say, "mature", and I took a bite and quickly threw away the whole mess. I made sure I had a fresh bag this time.

        trentyzan, the recipes I saw in my quick scan of google just called for water and a little salt, so I just followed the tortilla recipe on the back of the bag and added a little extra water to help things along when they cracked. I bet some solid fat would improve things considerably. Do you think shortening or butter would work instead of lard? My son is a vegetarian, and I'm always looking for ways to make meals that I can adapt for all of us without making separate dishes.

        1 Reply
        1. re: bear

          I haven't tried it, but for vegetarians shortening might be fine. Clarified butter or Ghee would probably work better than straight butter, though. Good luck!

        2. You could try making them with rice flour? Personally, I like the corn better but I grew to like the rice ones (and I can't eat corn anymore). I made them with just rice flour and water (plus a bit of salt) and never had them fall apart. If there is any trick, it is to be sure the fillings are about the same consistency as the pastry; this makes it easy to mold and flatten. The only way I've screwed them up was by not cooking them long enough (the edges get that grainy raw bland flavor). Also, I never minded when the cheese cracked and ran out during cooking as it would fry crispy--yum. I also cook them on a dry but seasoned skillet (no grease).

          The following link is to my blog posting about El Salvadorian pupusas and a recipe:

          1 Reply
          1. re: TimeMachine

            Thank you for your link! I have never eaten a pupusa,but read about them and I just know I would love it. As naive as I am, I would of made a mess making them. Your description of the the fillilings (and preparation) and the dough to using a dry griddlle, will help me greatly. Definitley making these is an art.

            They sound delicious, and one of these days when it's not 110 degrees, and I have all my fillings ready, I'll give it a go. Thank you for posting!

          2. Sorry for the late response. I've been away for a few wonderful days of vacation.

            Thanks for all the replies. Time Machine, what a neat idea using rice flour instead of masa. Although we love masa, my son doesn't eat wheat at all, so we are always looking for interesting, easy what-free ideas. Rice pupusas would be a nice change of pace and a good way to use up some of the bags of rice flour in my cupboards.

            I doubt I'll be able to make either kind for a couple of weeks, but if anything interesting comes up, I'll report back.