The CONCACAF Cookbook: Pupusa con Cortido (El Salvador)

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The odds are very high that there will be plenty of El Salvador fans at their team’s Gold Cup matches this summer. The question is: will there be pupusas?

Food and football. A delightful combination. Whether one is a supporter ready for a long day at the arena or a starving journalist looking for a free meal everyone looks forward to eating and watching a soccer match. Aside from maybe a cold drink there is nothing better than finding good grub at a stadium or at a party.

In the lead up to this year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup we here at Prost Amerika will be providing some of the best food from the respective participants. While some of the dishes might be traditional (see above) others will be a little bit more creative. We will also be providing the instructions on how to make these dishes so that you can try them at home. Finally, do please send us pictures of your results!

So for this week we are going to be a Salvadorean staple: the pupusa.  The pupusa dates back centuries to the Pipil tribe who were from what is now known as El Salvador. The Pipil tribe lived mainly in the Northwest part of El Salvador near what is now known as Joya de Ceren (possible relation to the San Jose Earthquakes midfielder?), an archaelogical site that dates back as early as 1200 BC. Although it was originally filled with vegetables, herbs, fungi, and salt it would go on to include things like meats, beans, and cheese.

What makes the story of the pupusa such an interesting story and ties it to soccer is that it’s popularity was a byproduct of the Salvadorean civil war in the 1980s. The Salvadoreans who left their home country for places like Canada, Mexico, and the United States brought their love of not just soccer but also of pupusas. When Major League Soccer first started in 1996 clubs like D.C. United and the Los Angeles Galaxy had a large Salvadorean presence within their supporters groups. While they were cheering for Salvadorean legends like Raul Diaz Arce and Mauricio Cienfuegos they were also spreading their love of the pupusa. It is also not uncommon to go to any MLS park now and see pupusas on the menu.

For our pupusa we also are going to be adding a side dish called the curtido. The curtido is Salvadorean equivalent of cole slaw, a mix of cabbage, carrots and a little bit of vinegar. Considering that there will be many pupusas eaten during this year’s Gold Cup in barbecues and during tailgating it is the perfect side dish for Salvadorean meal.

So let’s get to cooking!

Ingredients

Curtido

1/2 head cabbage; shredded

1 large carrot; grated

1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Pupusa

2 cups Masa Harina

Pinch of salt

1 1/2 cup of grated cheese (whatever type you like)

Vegetable Oil

Optional- 1 cup of finely chopped chicken

 

Directions

Curtido

Step one: You will need to combine the cabbage, carrot, and onion in one large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine all of the other ingredients.

Step two: Pour the second bowl into the bowl with all of your vegetables and stir. Once you have done this for about five minutes cover the bowl up and place it in the refrigerator. It should be ready in about two hours but you may want leave it covered for up to a day.

Pupusa

Step one: Combine the masa harina, salt, and water in another mixing bowl (yes, we will be using a lot of bowls for this meal).

Step two: Knead the dough so that it is smooth and moist and has the consistency of an earlobe. If your dough is too dry add a little water (no more than 1-2 teaspoons) to loosen it up. You may also need more masa depending upon if it is sticky. For those at home who have made pizza dough these rules will sound very familiar.

Step three: Once you feel that your dough has been properly kneaded place a towel over it and let it rest for about ten minutes. During this time you can get your toppings out.

Step four: Turn the burner of your stove on to a low setting and place a skillet with a little bit of vegetable oil on it.

Step five: Put a little olive oil on your hands and take a chunk of the dough and roll it into a ball about 2 inches in diameter. Then place it on a clean table and use one of your thumbs to make an indentation into the dough. Your mark should make the pupusa look like a cup. Put some of your toppings into the cup and then seal it up using the dough. Once it is sealed pick it up and pat the dough on each side until it forms a disk shape.

Step six: Repeat step five until all of your dough is used.

Step seven: Once the skillet is warm place the pupusa onto the pan. You should cook it for about 2-3 minutes on each side or until it turns golden brown.

The finished product

 

Drink to go with your pupusas? Pilsener

If you are going to have a working class meal you should have a working class beer. Pilsener is one of the most popular beers in El Salvador and has found a cult following here in the United States. Aside from its awesome playing card-themed logo it is a smooth, light beer which will be perfect if you are watching El Salvador at this year’s Gold Cup.

Will El Salvador fans be eating pupusas at the Gold Cup Final?

El Salavador is one of the more interesting sides at this year’s tournament. Midfielders Darwin Ceren (San Jose Earthquakes) and Richard Menjivar (New York Cosmos) have formed a unique partnership under coach Eduardo Lara. They are also coming off of a strong showing at the Copa Centroamericana where they pulled off a surprising draw against Costa Rica.

While El Salvador will have a difficult battle against Mexico (7/9 San Diego, CA) in Group D the good news is that they get that match out of the way first. Curacao (7/13 Denver) should pose little to no problem but the big test will be their final match against Jamaica (7/16 San Antonio). La Selecta have a 4-6-9 record all-time against the Reggae Boyz. They might not need three points going into the match, given that two of the top three third-place teams make it to the second round. But getting that second place spot likely means avoiding the United States.

Prediction: Get the masa ready for the Quarter-finals but hold on setting up a party for the final.

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