Chicharrón pupusas are one of the most beloved foods in El Salvador, but making them from scratch can be a challenge. Fortunately, we've got instant corn masa!
Salvadorans take so much pride in their national dish, and for good reason: Pupusas are not only scrumptious, but also very versatile. Traditionally they are made by cooking the corn kernels with lime for long periods of time and then grinding them up to a pliable doughy consistency.
Unfortunately, making them from scratch may be challenging for people living outside El Salvador. For that reason, instant corn masa is an excellent alternative that is also widely available in most supermarkets across the U.S.
Hondurans have also made pupusas part of our gastronomy given my country’s proximity to El Salvador, although the variety is not as wide as for our Salvadoran neighbors.
Although corn is most commonly used for the dough, there are also rice dough pupusas. As far as the filling, you can do meatless stuffing with melting cheese such as mozzarella, squash, loroco flower (sold in jars or frozen), or a combination of cheese and refried beans.
Chicharrón is by far one of the most popular pupusa fillings. Salvadoran chicharrón is not the same as fried pork rinds. Instead, it is basically pork meaty chunks cooked until they are fully browned and crispy.
Pupusas are never, ever deep-fried. Always cook them on a hot griddle or a comal (a Mexican-style griddle).
Serve them with traditional curtido and red tomato sauce.
For the Curtido
1small cabbage (look for a dense head, heavy for its size), shredded
1/4cup pineapple vinegar (if you can’t find it, use rice vinegar instead)
1small onion julienned or finely chopped
1tablespoon dried oregano
1-2 carrots peeled and shredded
salt and pepper to taste
For the Dough
2cups instant corn masa flour (masa harina)
salt and pepper to taste
For the Filling
1pound pork cut in small chunks (use boneless ribs or butt)
Bring water to a boil with the bay leaf. As soon as it starts boiling, turn off heat. Add cabbage and let sit for about 2 minutes. Drain.
In a glass container, combine cabbage with rest of the ingredients. Let it sit for at least 4-6 hours before using.
Preparing the Chicharrón
Season pork chunks with salt, pepper, cumin and garlic powder.
Heat oil in a medium-size skillet to medium heat. Add pork chunks and cook until golden brown. Add water, cover and cook until all liquid has evaporated and pork is fully browned and crispy.
After cooking is done, in a food processor, process pork chunks, tomatoes, onion and green peppers in batches. The consistency should be pasty and NOT too watery. This is the filling.
Making the Masa
In a medium bowl, combine masa harina, salt, pepper and water. Work the dough until dough is soft but still firm. You may need to adjust the water. Divide into 10 -12 balls. Set aside.
Form and Cook the Pupusas
Heat a comal or griddle over medium heat.
In a small bowl, combine about 2 cups of water with a few drops of oil. (Yes, water and oil do not mix, but this mixture will prevent dough from sticking to your hands.)
Wet your hands with water-oil mixture.
Grab a ball of masa, flatten it out in your hands—very much like a thick tortilla—put a spoonful of chicharrón in the center. Bring edges of the “tortilla” to the center to “close it up” and flatten in between your palms.
Cook each pupusa on the hot comal for about 2 minutes per side.