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Sep 17, 2008 07:41 PM

Recipe suggestions for Salvadoran Curtido?

Ate in a central american restaurant the other night. They put out a jar of condiment called curtido. Also had a similar jar on the table in Belize.
Tried to make it last night;
Shredded cabbage
Shredded carrot
Pepper flakes
sliced onion
half/half vinegar/water

1. Blanch the cabbage for one minute, drain.
2. Mix with rest of ingredients
3. Fridge overnight

I wasn't happy with the results, especially the wilting, blanched cabbage.
I will attempt again without blanching, but does anyone have suggestions, improvements, better technique, other ingredients, etc?
Looking for a fresh, tangy, caliente side in a jar.


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  1. Ahhh, make that a "piquante side in a jar"...

    1. I'd like to revive this thread. I've made curtido a few times but never get it like I had it in El Salvador or at great pupuserias (there are many in the greater DC area). Any Salvadorans want to share an abuela recipe??

      3 Replies
      1. re: margaretelise

        Lets hope for the didn't go very far in 4 years.

        1. re: margaretelise

          I spent a short amount of time in El Salvador, and I lived in Arlington, VA (lol) and the curtido I'm used to always had oregano. Not a spice I typically like (unless on pizza), but it's not curtido without the oregano.

          1. The curtido recipes I've seen have all been on fermented food sites. Fermenting would keep the cabbage crisp, as it is in sauerkraut, and give you the tanginess of the lactic acid from fermenting. It sounds like what you're looking for.

            4 Replies
            1. re: weezieduzzit

              Yeah, it's a SLIGHT fermentation... not enough to really make it sauerkraut or kimchi like, but enough to add a tang. But not all the curtido I've had tasted like they had any fermentation.

              1. re: kubasd

                I imagine a lot is made with vinegar because it's faster- like a lot of kraut and pickles these days. A lot of things that used to be fermented products changed to vinegar when they went into large scale production. In addition to time, you can't seal up fermented items and let them sit on a shelf or they'll blow!

                1. re: kubasd

                  Curtido is easily one of my favorite condiments...I wish the stuff could be found at hot dog vendors in NY/wherever, and it's not as if the ingredients are that expensive either. At the same time, kimchi and pupusas also sounds like a good mix.

                  Where in the DC area hosts the most Salvadoran restaurants? Maybe I made the mistake of going to Wheaton by metro, but if there are some close by the station, please do inform.

                  1. re: BuildingMyBento

                    I've been out of the area for about 6 years, but I used to LOVE the little box-like restaurant in the CVS parking lot on Columbia Pike in Arlington.... they were fantastic!

              2. Instead of blanching, put the shredded veggies in a strainer and pour hot water over them. Then shock with cold water, drain thoroughly and squeeze out any excess moisture. I find this gives just the degree of wilting that I like and the vinegar is absorbed readily.

                You need to add Mexican oregano (not Greek), just a little bit. Toast it first. And fresh ground black pepper.

                1. I, too, have been unsatisfied with the versions of curtido that I make at home. I've tried many different recipes, many different combinations. The closest I got was for one like the recipe in the OP, only with pineapple vinegar standing in for the white and mexican oregano added in. It still didn't come close to the addictive, briny versions I've had in El Salvador, but it was a suitable substitute in lieu of the real thing.

                  However, as someone mentions above, it's a slight fermentation that you want, so I changed my google searches accordingly and came up with these two very promising recipes:



                  I made a small batch of each version today as an experiment, and I've got to say that it really seems like this is the real deal. I should know in a few days whether this is true or not, but if the delicious, pungent scent wafting up from the jars is any indication, a phenomenal pupusa feast is in my near future! So far each version seems close, but the first recipe with a touch of pineapple in it is winning out. Here's hoping!

                  I will update with the results.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Allegra_K

                    After several evenings filled with pupusas, yuca frita and other gluttony, I am very happy to proclaim both curtido recipes to be winners.

                    There was a slight edge given to recipe number 2 as decided by my husband and other transplanted Salvadoran dinner guests, but all agreed that they were like to ones you'd find plonked on all the tables at a pupuseria in El Salvador.

                    Version #1, the recipe with pineapple, was at its prime flavour after about three weeks of sitting out on the counter at approx 70 degrees. Two weeks into fermenting it still had too much sweetness, according to the testers. Four weeks into the game, it was just slightly too sour, more like a sour kraut, though still excellent.

                    Version #2, the preferred choice, has reached its full potential at about four weeks.

                    I put both versions in the fridge at this time to stop the fermenting.

                    For recipe #2, the jar of cabbage was to be covered with a cloth, but after a few days, too much of the precious liquid had evaporated, so I topped it up with a couple tablespoons of pineapple vinegar and covered loosely with a lid.

                    I would readily make both recipes again. Soon, in fact, as my stockpile of curtido is getting depleted rather quickly. This is easily the best curtido to come out of my kitchen.

                    1. re: Allegra_K

                      Thanks so much for posting these! I made pupusas last year and made curtido too, but it had vinegar and definitely wasn't exactly what I was looking for.