Pupusas are maize-flour pancakes filled with various ingredients. The main ones are refried beans, pork and cheese. Other versions may use a combination of prawns, zucchini, or spinach and cheese.
Lilian Funes de Murga, owner and chef of Los Latinos restaurant in Melbourne, talks us through this recipe of her childhood, which she developed in Australia.
Curtido (pickled cabbage salad)
- ¼ cabbage, grated using a knife or mandolin
- 1 carrot, grated
- 1 onion, finely sliced
- 2 hot red chillies, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 500 ml brown vinegar
- salt, to taste
- 5 roma tomatoes
- ½ onion
- ½ green capsicum
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 hot red chilli, finely chopped
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 cup red kidney beans (or black beans)
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 brown onion, finely diced
- ½ tomato
- 1 green capsicum, chopped
- 250 g diced pork (for chicharron)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup Australian feta
- 2 cups maize flour
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
To make the curtido, mix the cabbage, carrot, onion, chillies and oregano, then place in a sealable container or jar. Pour in vinegar to cover (or, if you prefer, use half vinegar and half hot water). Season to taste, seal and set aside.
Tip: The longer it cures, the better – you can keep a large jar of curtido in the fridge for a few days.
To make the salsa, place the tomatoes, onion and capsicum in a pan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Set aside to cool for a while. Drain ingredients, keeping the water, then place in a blender, adding the oil. Blend, gradually adding water, until it reaches the consistency you prefer. (Less water results in a chunkier sauce.) Place mixture in a pan, add chilli and season to taste, and bring to the boil, stirring. Set aside in a container or jar.
Tip: This also keeps for a few days.
To make the pupusas, cook the beans in 4 cups water, using 1 clove garlic and salt to taste, for 40 minutes or until the beans soften. Drain and set aside to cool.
Place the beans in food processor and blend until the skins are well blended in the mix. Place 2 tbsp oil in a pan and fry one-third of the chopped onion and 1 chopped clove garlic until soft. Add the bean mixture, season to taste, and stir until the beans form a thick paste. Set aside.
To make the chicharron (pork mixture), deep-fry the pork with 1 clove garlic and 1 bay leaf until golden brown. Remove and drain on a paper towel. Place the pork, tomato, half of the capsicum and half the remaining onion in a food processor, and blend until a rough paste forms. Season and set aside.
To make the cheese mixture, place the mozzarella, feta, remaining onion and capsicum in a food processor and blend until the mixture forms a ball. Set aside.
Mix flour with 1½ cups water to make a soft dough. Make a ball of dough with about 4 tbsp flour and then flatten very thinly, add 1 tbsp each of the pork and cheese mixtures, press edges together to seal the papusa, and flatten to about half a centimetre thick and roughly the size of a CD, making sure the edges don’t crack. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Cook on high temperature on a hotplate or flat non-stick pan for about 1 minute each side or until edges are golden brown and cheese starts to melt.
Serve with curtido and salsa. Eat with your hands.
Tip: If you don’t want to make beans and sauce from scratch, use canned refried beans and tinned crushed tomatoes. If you’re vegetarian, you can add zucchini or spinach to the cheese mixture.