Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Vegan Mofo #22 - Terry’s Pupusas Stuffed with Black Beans and Plantains with Salvadorian Slaw...

Vegan Mofo #22 - Terry’s Pupusas Stuffed with Black Beans and Plantains with Salvadorian Slaw

The Region - El Salvador
The Book - Viva Vegan!
The Author - Terry Hope Romero
The Recipe - Pupusas Stuffed with Black Beans and Plantains with Salvadorian Slaw
Page # 162 Salvadorian Slaw is on page 79, Simple Latin Tomato Sauce on Page 46
Difficulty - Easy
Duration - About 45 minutes for the Pupusas, 15 minutes for the slaw not including marinade time and about 10-15 minutes for the tomato sauce.

Today we move on from Mexico to El Salvador with Pupusas which are fat, stuffed, grilled tortillas. Traditionally these cute little tortillas have been eaten in parts of El Salvador for as long as 2000 years, however it wasn’t until the early to the mid 1900's that they became more widespread around the country. Still Pupusas were relatively unknown outside of the country until forced migration -due to the Salvadorian Civil War in the 1980's - brought Salvadorians and their pupusas to neighboring countries and across the globe.

Until last night I had never eaten a Pupusas. Vancouver in the 80's and 90's or even the early 2000's wasn’t a place where Mexican, Central American, and South American cuisine abounded. Though that’s changing a little these days. Even Chicago with it’s large Hispanic community is not a place where I ever see Pupusas on offer - though perhaps I’m simply not looking in the right place. Still I knew way back when I bought Viva Vegan! That I’d have to make this dish eventually, and I’m so glad I finally got around to it. Isn’t that one of the best things about Vegan Mofo? It always challenges me to make the dishes I want to make but never seem to have the time for.

Unfortunately Pupusas mean working with dough, and you know I hate dough. I thought that since It was Masa dough - and I have no trouble making tortillas - that it would be fine but unlike a traditional wheat dough masa dough crumbles. Terry says the dough is suppose to be moist, and that it shouldn’t crumble but I really had trouble with it. My Masa kept cracking as I rolled it around in my palm trying to shape a bowl to fill. Then trying to pinch the bowl closed over the filling was a chore in itself. It didn’t take as long as I though it might to actually make the pupusas but in the end mine came out slightly cracked and a little bit of filling poked through a few. I suppose it doesn’t matter much that my pupusas weren’t perfect rounds, or that they are probably a little fatter then their traditional counterparts, or that they’re unsightly. What matters is the taste, and these pupusas really exceeded my expectations.

Terry’s Pupusas are filled with a spicy mix of black beans and cool sweet ripe plantain. She also suggests using vegan mozzarella but I didn’t have any. Instead I used some homemade Sharp White Chedder which I made using Skye Michael Conroy’s recipe in his book “The Non-Dairy Formulary” it worked out great. I really loved the hot masa dough, with it’s complex filing drenched in Terry’s simple Latin tomato sauce - which is just a blend of tomato sauce, onion, cumin, garlic, lime juice, and salt. With a heaping side of tangy pickled cabbage slaw or Curdito as it’s known - a condiment that shares similarity with German Sauerkraut or Korean Kimchi. - it was the perfect evening meal.

I’m sure once I get the hang of working with the masa dough in this way, and my pupusas shaping improves I’ll be making these all the time. I’d love to try out some of the filling variations Terry suggests especially the Squash and Bean and the Bean and Seitan fillings. I also think they’d be great with a sweet/savory filling like the raisin olive filling she uses in her Empanada recipe. The possibilities are limitless!

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