Pupusa de Queso, Curtido, and Yucca Frita con Chicharron

I mentioned in my last post that everything I found regarding El Salvadorean cuisine mentioned pupusas. Pupusas were the first item on every single list of best El Salvadorean foods. I’ve never had pupusas but I’ve had my fair share of its cousin, the gordita. Actually, they’re more half-siblings than cousins because they’re basically made the same way but just have a couple of extra ingredients; and maybe look a little different. Yeah, that’s how I would describe my half-brother and sister.

Anyway, both are made with masa harina, both look like fat tortillas, and both have fillings. That’s where the similarities end. With pupusas, the filling in incorporated into the dough. You flatten the dough to about palm size, put whatever filling you want (cheese, meat, veggies, a combo of all three), and then fold the dough over the filling. With gorditas, you lightly fry the dough after flattening it, slice it open, and put your filling in there. The filling is typically meat and salad, at least the ones I’ve always eaten are. So yes, very similar but not the same. I love gorditas. I spent many a Cinco de Mayo and Diez y Seis fiestas at the gordita stand, stuffing my face full of tripa gorditas and then walking over to the raspa stand and eating/drinking strawberry raspas. Wow, reading over that sentence, I’m wondering how I wasn’t an obese child. All I did was eat fried shit and sugar and I was NOT active. Luck I guess.

So considering my love for gorditas, I figured I would love pupusas just as much. I won’t keep you waiting for the answer: I totally loved pupusas! Mine came out thinner than they should have because I wanted to make more than the four the recipe said it would make. Mine also weren’t as smooth as they should have been because my dough was a little dry. I had the little one in the kitchen with me and she kept trying to stick her hand in the dough so I kinda rushed it, instead of adding in the additional water to make it more moist and pliable. Cooking the pupusas was probably the most fun part. Because I’m an experience tortilla warmer, cooking the pupusas was easy. I just heated up my skillet, threw the pupusa on there, and flipped with MY BARE FINGERS every couple of minutes. My fingers are so callused from heating up tortillas on the comal, it was no thang. That’s not true, after flipping ten very hot pupusas, the tips of three of my fingers were red and sensitive for the rest of the night. That still didn’t stop me from making up a song to the tune of Drake’s “Started From the Bottom.” My version went “Started with tortillas now I’m here/Started with tortillas now the whole team here” It’s going to be a big hit, y’all.

I also made some curtido and fried yucca with chicharron. This yucca recipe is basically like the Brazilian yucca recipe except it added some annatto and paprika. It gave them some added color but didn’t really affect the flavor too much. I hadn’t ever made chicharrones before because I like to be in denial when it comes to fried foods. Like, I know how they’re made and how bad they are but when you actually see them being cooked and see all that oil get sucked in, it’s depressing. We ate a lot of chicharrones back home, it was one of my dad’s favorite things to eat. The chicharrones I’m used to are big, fat, thick pieces of pig skin with a layer of actual fat that is fried. It sounds gross, I know, but they are so good! You have to cut the fat off because who wants to eat that? But once you do, throw some salt on it, a little chile, and you’re good. The chicharrones I made were just skin, no fat, and very, very thin. They curled up very quickly but were really crispy and almost broke a couple of teeth. I am not selling this very well…

Aside from not being the healthiest meal we’ve had in a while, I loved every single bit of it! It took me back to my childhood and made me miss my hometown. I never miss my hometown but when I do, it’s because of the food. Uvalde is a total shitshow but there’s some good Mexican food there. I will never stop missing that.

I’m taking tonight and tomorrow off from cooking but we have friends coming over for brunch on Saturday and I’m making carne deshilada, shredded beef. Hopefully it comes out better than the Cuban version.


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