Pupusa a la Red Hook

In food on 09/05/2009 at 6:15 pm

Woe is us, we never made it down to Red Hook to sample the infamous pupusas with a side of methane. When the Two Hot Tamales said their favorite food to eat with their hands was a pupusa from a market in Los Angeles, we decided it was now or never, to make it ourselves, that is.

A pupusa is a savory arepa, or a corn tortilla quesadilla, aka a South American flat dumpling. About a month ago, we tried making it according to instructions online, which said to stuff it by making a well in the masa, dumping in some filling and then rolling it out flat. That didn’t work at all.

making a sow's ear

See the filling was too messy, plus we didn’t have quesillo, which is the traditional cheese. We were trying to use a mix of shredded cheese and cotija. The masa is too crumbly to smooth out, and it doesn’t have any gluten so it’s almost impossible to stretch.

poo-poo-sa version 1.0

This was the end result, after some time on the cast iron grill. You can see the filling spilling out all over the place, very messy and inelegant. Granted this is a street food, but still, you gotta do it with panache. Actually this pic is really just a gratuitous shot of our fantastic bacon press.

We discussed an alternate plan. Why not just roll out two tortillas with the tortilla press and seal the edges, sort of like an empanada? That’s what we did tonight. It worked out pretty well, we think. The discs of dough were just a touch unwieldy to hold and press together at the same time.

flying pupusa

This time we used the flat side of the griddle, to insure even heat, so there weren’t any lovely grill marks. But we were able to keep the insides in. Hurrah. The other half thinks now we made them too thin, although they did have that pleasant gooey grilled stringy cheese effect everybody goes ga-ga over.

papa kraft would be so proud

What will version 3.0 bring to light? We’ll try to get ahold of some quesillo, if possible, or maybe slices of fresh mozarella, and attempt stuffing with other ingredients, perhaps some sort of ground meat. The first time, the accompaniment was a chunky tomato sauce with cilantro and cotija crumbles. This time, I whipped up a beef taco filling. Both are good, though I admit I would have preferred the toppings inside of my carb. Ultimately these babies are cheese-stuffed tacos, sans meat.

masa (make according to bag instructions, add a pinch of salt & pepper)
sliced or shredded cheese (traditionally quesillo)

Flatten balls of masa, but keep them a little thicker than for tacos. Top one disc with filling. Place another disc on top. Seal edges with fingers or tines of fork. Alt method: seal 1/2 way around to make a pita pocket, then fill with yummies, and finally seal the rest of the way.

Grill on dry skillet or cast iron griddle.

Serve with meat sauce or tomatillo salsa. Finger-lickin’ good.

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