Papusas are the national dish of El Salvador, made of thick corn tortillas filled with various ingredients. So how do you make papusas? Well, you mix masa flour, salt, and water to make up the dough and then stuff them with beef, pork, beans, cheese, etc. These masa cakes are a portion of authentic Salvadoran street food, and since they are made with masa harina, they are actually gluten-free.
And the best thing about Salvadoran Style Papusas isn’t just their delicious, savory cheese ( or meat or beans) filled masa cakes, but their brilliant vinegary, spicy slaw called curtido. Curtido is a fermented cabbage relish, which usually includes carrots, onions, spices, and garlic. The curtido helps balance the heaviness of the papusas. Overall, this meal is simple yet fulfilling and perfect for any time of day. Interestingly, papusas have also been said to be strong contenders for tacos.
It’s good to know how to make papusas because they are incredibly inexpensive and straightforward to make. They are an excellent dish to prepare in advance for a big day and are highly versatile. You can change the fillings to suit any taste. Not to mention, you can appease your vegetarian friends and relatives with a combination of bean and cheese fillings. Get this party rolling now!
Although you didn’t know how to make papusas, with this super easy recipe, you’ll be whipping up homemade papusas in no time.
HOW TO MAKE PAPUSAS
Preparing the dough
There are only four ingredients to make the papusa dough.
- Masa harina (corn flour)
- Warm water
- A little oil
MAKING THE PAPUSAS
Make papusa dough by mixing the masa harina, a bit of salt, warm water, and a drizzle of oil. The warm water helps hydrate the masa effectively and quickly, and the oil helps make the dough tender.
Mix everything until the dough is smooth. Once the dough is ready, set it aside while you prepare the filling. The main thing that can happen to the dough at this point is that it dries out. So, cover the dough with a plastic wrap or a damp cloth to keep the moisture in.
THE PAPUSA FILLING
There are three common Papusa fillings. There is fried pork (which is called chicharron), refried red beans, and cheese. And when the three mixtures are combined, the papusa is called ravuelta.
To make chicharron, boil the pork until the water cooks away and the meat fries in its own fat. Then cook the garlic, onion, tomatoes, bell pepper, with a little salt. Then add the pork in the drippings. Once cooked, grind the mixture. It is then ready for filling.
For the beans, boil small dried red beans with onion and garlic. You can use canned beans too. Then crush the beans and fry the pureed beans in oil.
Use 3 cups of shredded cheese; you can combine with mozzarella and ricotta. And 3 or 4 tablespoons of heavy cream. And a pinch of salt to taste. Then combine these ingredients and make a paste.
Scoop out a portion of dough that had been set aside earlier. Shape the dough into a ball. Then form a hollow into the ball of dough. Add 2 tablespoons of the mixture (whichever your filling is), and gently fold the edges all the way around until the fillings are sealed inside.
To flatten your papusa, use both of your palms. Slowly press down, and stop when the edges start to crack, as this is a sign that you’ve pressed hard enough.
NOTE: Fix the cracked edges by placing the papusas on a lightly oiled board, then using your fingers pinch them together, and smoothen it. You could use a little bit of water too.
Repeat this with the rest of the dough.
Once all the papusas are shaped, it is time to cook them. Cooking is simple. Heat a non-stick skillet or griddle over low-medium heat. You can do this in a dry pan, or you can lightly grease it. Fry it up until the papusas are lightly brown on both sides. Now serve your papusa warm with curtido. It’s as simple as that.
HOW TO MAKE THE CURTIDO
- ¼ cabbage, grated
- 1 carrot, grated
- 1 onion, finely sliced
- 2 hot red pepper, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 500 ml vinegar
- Salt to taste
In a glass or plastic jar, mix the cabbage, carrot, onion, peppers, and oregano. Add vinegar, or if you prefer, you can use half vinegar and half hot water. Mix with a wooden spoon. Put the mix in the refrigerator and let it rest overnight. You can also keep the mixture in the fridge for up to a week. The longer it cures, the better.
Get creative with your cooking with this recipe on how to make papusas, and your taste buds will thank you. Be sure to also check out our article on the latest health craze, bone broth, and its many benefits.