Sprouted Corn Pupusas

Pupusas are a traditional Salvadoran dish. They are thick corn tortillas filled with some combination of cheese, ground pork, squash, and/or refried beans. The beauty of making them yourself is that you can fill them with whatever you like. My kids really like pupusas, and will eat them for any meal. They are purists and like bean and cheese the best, but they tolerate me throwing some veggies in there too. It’s well worth it to make a double, triple, or bigger batch and keep them in your freezer to heat up in the toaster for a quick and easy meal. The filling here is pretty standard, but you could do all kinds of fun things…roasted winter squash, any kind of greens, cabbage, caramelized onions, scrambled eggs, etc, etc, etc. Have fun with it!

I have made pupusas three different ways – with masa harina flour, with masa dough made the traditional way by soaking dried corn in lime water (calcium hydroxide, also known as pickling lime, but not the citrus fruit), and now with sprouted corn. Like anything, each method has its benefits and drawbacks. Making masa dough from scratch is traditional, and that’s always a plus from my perspective. Back in the days of yore, people tended to have an amazing way of making the most of what they had and, in this case, soaking the corn in lime water made (makes) it more digestible. The drawbacks are that it should soak at least a day and up to several days (I’ve even read up to two weeks), and that’s a lot of advance planning, and that you are supposed to rub the hulls off of the corn and I didn’t have much luck with that when I tried. I ended up leaving them mostly on, which was fine, but I don’t really like to do things halfway like that. Finally, It’s typically made with a special tool called a metate to grind the corn. That’s apparently quite laborious and I don’t have one, so I used my food processor. It worked fine, but had to work pretty hard to get the corn reasonably fine. Masa harina is dried masa dough and is the most convenient way to make pupusas. However, my understanding is that the corn is only soaked for about an hour, rather than several days, so it loses out on the digestibility front. It is also not available organically, at least as far as I could find, and I strongly suspect it’s made from genetically modified corn, which I’m not into. So, for me, the happy medium is using sprouted corn. Sprouting the corn makes it more digestible, maybe even for people who don’t do great with corn in general. This recipe does require some advance planning, but mostly in the form of letting the corn sit in a colander and soak, so I can deal with that.

Ok, after all that talking, I feel like I need to be really clear that these are quite easy to make, especially if you make a large batch and freeze them. I knew I wanted to try these, so I sprouted some corn earlier in the week and stuck it in the fridge until I had some time. I also had some cooked black beans that needed to get used up. With those things prepped, it only took about 20 minutes for me to make enough pupusas for 2 boys’ breakfasts, plus leftovers for lunch. If I wanted to make a whole batch to freeze, say maybe a dozen more, it would only have taken about 15-20 more minutes, and that’s using a small griddle.

This recipe will make about a dozen 4-5 inch pupusas.

  • 2 cups field corn, sprouted* (you can find this by the other dry grains at the health food store
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water, or enough to make a soft dough (will depend on how dry your corn is)
  • 1 recipe refried beans
  • olive oil
  • 1 small bunch of spinach, chopped
  • grated cheese, optional
  • salt and pepper, to taste

*To sprout the corn, soak it in water overnight. Drain into a colander, discarding the soaking water, and rinse thoroughly. Keep the corn in the colander and place over a bowl to catch any dripping water. Leave on counter until you see little sprouts growing, about 24-36 hours. Sprouted corn can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

To make the dough: grind the sprouted corn into a fine meal in a blender or food processor. I used the dry container for my vitamix and it ground it quite easily. If you are using a regular blender or food processor and it isn’t perfectly fine, don’t worry about it. Set aside a little corn flour to sprinkle on your trays to keep the uncooked pupusas from sticking. Pour the remaining ground flour into a medium-sized bowl and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix in water, starting with 1/2 cup and continuing to add small amounts until you have a soft dough. It’s good when you can press a small amount of dough between your fingers and it won’t crack on the edges. Better too soft than too dry.

To make the filling: heat a pan to medium and add a little olive oil and the chopped spinach. Cook until just wilted and stir the refried beans into the spinach. Season to taste. The filling should taste good on its own before it goes into the pupusas.

To make the pupusas: Make an assembly line with your dough, your bean/spinach mixture, and grated cheese, if using. Have a tray or trays ready, sprinkled with your reserved flour, to place the pupusas on once they are formed. Coat your hands with olive oil. Take a spoonful of the filling and form it into a ball a little bigger than a golf ball. Press your finger into the middle and then press out toward the edges to form a little bowl. Place about 1/3 cup of filling into the little bowl and bring the sides together to cover the filling. Gently press the filled pupusa back into a round so that it looks like a thick pancake. Place the formed pupusa on the floured tray and continue until all of the pupusas are made. If you plan to store the pupusas, you can freeze them uncooked on the trays. Once frozen, they can be stacked in a plastic bag or other sealed container for longer storage. If you are cooking them right away, heat a griddle to medium heat, then coat it with olive oil. Place as many pupusas as will fit on the griddle and cook for about 3 minutes on each side, or until they are slightly browned and puffed up. Keep the cooked pupusas on a tray in a warm oven while you cook the rest. Serve the pupusas hot with fresh salsa and cabbage salad. Enjoy!

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3 Comments »

  1. Malini said

    Hi!

    I went to buy the field corn and couldn’t find it…I checked Vitamin Cottage and Whole Foods. Could it be under a different name?

    Thanks so much!!!

    • adaba said

      Hi there! I don’t know what they call it at Vitamin Cottage, but it is in the section with the other bulk dry grains and looks like large, dry corn kernals. If you were to ask, you could ask for the dried corn you would use to make corn meal. Let me know if you still can’t find it and I’ll take another look! Julia

  2. Kristal Roach said

    Thank you so much for your in depth directions! We made them today from sprouted corn and they’re delicious!

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