Friday, May 17, 2013

Pupusas with Pickled Loroco Flower

David, the awesome guy who did the brick work on our pizza oven, is from El Salvador. During the hours it took to lay out and build that oven, we got to know each other by talking about all sorts of things, but I had lots of questions about El Salvadorian food. I asked him one of my favorite questions I have likely asked you if I've had the pleasure of knowing you: "So, it's a typical weekday, not a special occasion, and if you're going to eat a home-cooked meal for dinner, what are you making?" "Pupusas with loroco flowers!" he told me. Honestly I didn't know what either of those things were, so he had a lot of explaining to do. 

He explained that pupusas are like rustic, thick tortillas stuffed with all manner of things, and loroco flowers are flower buds served fresh or pickled -- a regional delicacy in El Salvador. So I set out to find loroco flowers, and lo and behold. they had them at the local supermarket for about $3. I bought them, took them home, and cracked open the giant jar. It's always exciting to try a new food for the first time. They are briny from the pickling, lightly bitter, and have the texture of snow peas...I like 'em! You should give them a try, too.

Pupusas with Pickled Loroco Flower

1 cup masa (for tortillas)
1/4 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup pickled loroco flowers
1 cup shredded chihuahua cheese (or mozzarella)
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic

1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon ancho chili
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (more to garnish)

canola oil for pan frying
limes, cilantro, avocado, sour cream, salsa (to garnish) 

In a medium bowl, add the masa, shortening, and broth then mix together to form a slightly stiff yet pliable dough. Add a teaspoon or two of water or broth if mixture is too dry. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes. In a separate medium bowl, add the loroco flowers, cheese, garlic, cumin, chili, and hot sauce and then toss so that all ingredients are well incorporated. 

Divide the dough into eight equal segments and roll each into a ball. Place one of the dough balls into the palm of your hand, smash it flat with your other palm, add 1/4 of the cheese mixture to the center, add a second flattened dough ball on top of that, and work it into a patty about the size of a typical hamburger while pinching the sides together to seal. Repeat.

in a large pan over medium heat, add enough canola oil to just coat the bottom of the pan. Pan fry each patty for 4 to 5 minutes per side or until nicely colored. Serve hot garnished however you please; options are listed above in ingredients list. (Makes 4 pupusas; serves 2.)