KOSHER RECIPES FOR GLUTEN-FREE LIVING
Friday, January 26, 2007
The Day My House Became a Pupuseria
The first time I ate a pupusa I was living in San Francisco's Mission District. I discovered that just one block away (at 1142 Valencia Street) was El Majahual Restaurant, a tiny Salvadorean and Colombian restaurant and pupuseria. I was living on a tight budget and at just $1.65 each, pupusas were just about the cheapest and most filling healthy meal I could find. I recall reading an article that said the rule for making a meal of pupusas is "one for a snack, two for lunch, three for dinner." Sounds about right to me. It was easy to fall in love with these thick El Salvadoreño corn tortillas crafted out of masa harina, stuffed with cheese, beans or meat and topped with a spicy cabbage salad known as curtido.
This weekend my house became a pupusa factory. My friend Melanie came over for dinner, and we ate stacks upon stacks of pupusas con curtido de repollo. I filled some with a combination of goat jack cheese and cotija*, while others were stuffed with both cheese and refried beans. We ate them with salsa, curtido, and slices of ripe avocado. I had so much masa (dough) left over that I made more for my breakfast guest the next day... and yet another batch when my aunt and uncle paid me a surprise visit later that afternoon. I made extras for my own dinner the following day, plus a batch for some dear friends. There were pupusas coming out my ears!
Masa harina is the extremely finely ground corn flour that makes a silky dough that can be used for corn tortillas, pupusas, and other Central American delicacies. The manufacturer of Maseca brand masa harina has verified that it is gluten-free and was made in a facility that does not process wheat. Maseca is widely available in the US and is inexpensive. For more information on Central American products that are gluten-free, check out the Celíacos de México blog (it's in Spanish). There are no good substitutes for masa harina - Corn flour is the closest in texture but not a match, and corn meal will give you mealy, greasy, tough results. So stick to the real thing.
Folks who are vegan, lactose intolerant, or casein-free, can omit the cheese and just stuff the pupusas with refried beans. You can serve an army with these recipes, so cut them in half if you're cooking for one or don't want leftovers!
PUPUSAS DE QUESO Y FRIJOLES REFRITOS
5 cups masa harina flour
4 cups water
1 cup canned gluten-free, vegetarian refried beans
1 1/2 cups cotija, grated (or other hard, mild white cheese)
1 1/2 cups monterey jack or other meltable white cheese, grated
In a medium bowl, mix the two cheeses together and set aside. Pour masa harina into a large mixing bowl. Pour the water in slowly, kneading with your hands. Add water a tablespoon at a time until the dough forms a cohesive ball. The dough should be dry enough to handle but moist enough that it doesn't crack at the edges when you press down on it. Allow dough to rest for 10 minutes.
Take a small handful of dough and roll it into a ball about the size of an egg or a little smaller. Flatten it between your palms until it is about 1/3 inch thick. For cheese and bean pupusas, put a generous pinch of cheese and a heaping 1/2 teaspoon of refried beans at the center of the disk of dough. For cheese-only pupusas, use more of the cheese. Beans-only pupusas can take about a teaspoon of beans. After placing the filling at the center of the pupusa, fold the edges in carefully until they meet at the top and the filling is completely covered. Roll carefully into a ball again, this time with the filling hidden inside. Now flatten again between your hands until the ball becomes as flat and thin as possible without the filling seeping out (you can perform this step with a tortilla press if you have one). Ideally they should be about 1/4" to 1/2" thick. Repair any holes to make sure no filling is visible.
Brush a griddle or heavy skillet lightly with vegetable oil and place over medium-high heat. Place each pupusa carefully on the hot griddle. Cook 3-4 minutes on each side or until lightly browned and beginning to blister. Serve hot, topped with curtido or salsa. Leftovers can be refrigerated and heated up at 300 degrees in an oven or toaster oven.
CURTIDO DE REPOLLO
1 head green cabbage
1 cup apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 medium onion
2 large carrots
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon brown sugar (optional)
Using a hand-grater or the grater attachment of your food processor, shred cabbage, carrots and onion. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Use the back of a wooden spoon to press all the ingredients down so they are submerged in liquid. Allow to rest at room temperature or in the refrigerator for at least 4-6 hours before serving. Serve with pupusas, or as a topping for fish, quesadillas, or black beans. Makes 10-12 servings.
*Edited 3/09 to add: Because I keep kosher more strictly than I did when I originally wrote this post, and I have yet to find cotija or any similar cheese that is hekshered with a reliable kosher certification, I have been making this with just jack cheese now, and it's great. In fact, I think any mild, hard white, meltable cheese will work well.