Earlier this summer, while on a trip to Kentucky for a conference, Joey and I asked around to the locals where we should grab lunch in Frankfort.
One of the recurring suggestions was to visit a little Honduran restaurant, Mami Monchita’s.
I don’t know what food genre I expected people in Kentucky to recommend, but I am certain it wasn’t Central American.
That being said, our policy to always trust the locals on where to eat paid off. The meal was absolutely fabulous, and I’ve been a bit obsessed with trying to cook something Honduran at home ever since.
While there, I ordered a meal that included pupusas, which “World Vision” explains thusly on its website, “Take masa harina—a special flour made from corn that’s been soaked in lime water—and add salt and water to create a dough. Roll it out and fill with cheese, beans or pork. Lightly fry in a pan until both sides are golden.”
So, this week, I finally decided to take the plunge into making my own pupusas, and while I’ll still need plenty of practice to be as good at it as the folks in Frankfort, these did not disappoint.
The recipe I used comes from the blog “Tara’s Multicultural Table.” You can find the original post on https://tarasmulticulturaltable.com/pupusas-de-queso-salvadoran-cheese-stuffed-tortillas/. I added pork to my version and used cheese I could find locally.
- 2 cups masa harina
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 3/4 cups warm water
- 6 ounces shredded quesillo or Monterrey jack cheese
- 6 ounces shredded cooked pork, chicken or beef
- 2-6 tablespoons oil I used canola
- In a mixing bowl, combine the masa harina, salt and water.
- Mix until the dough comes together and you can shape it with your hands. You want it to be just moist enough that it doesn’t crack when you flatten it out. (Add more water, just a little at a time, if it’s too dry, or add more masa if it’s too wet.)
- Form the dough into six balls of roughly equal size.
- To make a pupusa, carefully flatten a ball of dough in your palm to about one-half inch in thickness. Place about a tablespoon each of cheese and meat into the center, and then squish the sides up around the filling to form a ball again.
- To finish it up, gently flatten the dough back out to a disc with your hands until it is about one-quarter-inch thick, and set it aside on a plate. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
- In a skillet, heat a tablespoon of oil over medium heat.
- When the pan is hot, add as many pupusas as will easily fit in the pan. Let them cook several minutes and form golden brown blistered spots before flipping them to the other side. When the second side is golden, remove them to a plate. Continue until all of the pupusas are cooked, adding oil as necessary.
- Serve with salsa or, for a traditional dish, curtido, which is a pickled slaw.
We really enjoyed these. I would say that if you enjoy the flavor of tamales, you would like pupusas, too. You can also add beans to this if you like or do any combination of cheese, beans and/or meat that you like. One of these days, I’m going to make curtido to go along with these. (There is a recipe for it at the same website link above.) We served ours with a spicy, homemade tomatillo salsa, along with some Mexican rice, and it was a delicious dinner.
I will definitely be making these again.
And if you’re wondering if it’s strange for a boring lady in Kansas to cook Honduran recipes in her kitchen, I’d say it’s probably fine. If Kentucky can get away with it, I reckon I can, too.
This piece first appeared in print on Aug. 24, 2023.
Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.