This Salvadoran Pupusas with Seafood Curtido recipe is part of a sponsored collaboration with Vive Mejor and Knorr. All opinions and photos are my own. Ceramic tableware provided by local Martha’s Vineyard artisan, Leslie Freeman Designs.
When set with the challenge to make Salvadoran pupusas for this month’s recipe with Vive Mejor and Knorr, I knew I was in for a challenge because I had never made them before in my life! These stuffed masa cakes, or pupusas, are inspired by the traditional Salvadoran dish and are enjoyed with a side of coleslaw known as curtido, which I decided to add my own twist to since I live in New England and make a seafood curtido – basically a tangy slaw with citrusy seafood tossed alongside it.
What are pupusas, you might be wondering? Simply put, they are a thick corn masa tortilla that is stuffed with beans and/or cheese, and served with a red sauce and a spicy coleslaw they call “curtido”. The dough is made from corn masa (I used pre-cooked white corn masa) and mixed with water until hydrated, then made into balls that you stuff with savory red beans.
The history behind them is quite interesting, as they were first created centuries ago by the Pipil tribes who inhabited the territory now known as El Salvador. The pre-Columbian pupusas were vegetarian and half-moon shaped, filled with squash blossoms, herbs, mushrooms, and salt. By 1570, meat started to be incorporated into the filling.
Working with Knorr Bouillon and Hellman’s Mayonnaise, I knew this recipe would be tasty from the get go. And since I have creative freedom to recreate pupusas in my home with my favorite ingredients, I knew seafood had to be present! A blend of scallops, lobster, and shrimp was the idea – which I first thought to chop and then try to stuff into the pups dough, but I’m no Salvadoran abuela, so that was impossible for me (basically, my pups stuffing skills aren’t there yet). On to idea #2, the seafood salad to serve with the curtido! The chopped seafood was then lightly dressed in Hellman’s Mayonnaise and a good amount of fresh lime, along with thinly sliced jalapeños for a quick. I knew this was going to pair extremely well with the red bean stuffed pupusas.
For the pups stuffing, red beans were the classic choice. Cooked over low heat for an hour, I simmered red beans, onions, garlic, and dissolved a Knorr bouillon cube for extra flavor. Once cooked and tender, everything was blended. Note I did not any extra liquid to the beans, as you want it to be a thick paste – this makes it a lot easier to stuff into the dough!
The thing I love about Knorr is that they pride themselves on sourcing high quality ingredients and helping farms to implement sustainable practices such as reducing water and energy consumption, minimizing fertilizer usage, optimizing renewable resources, and increasing biodiversity. Something I think every company should strive to achieve.
Last, but certainly not least, let’s talk about the curtido. The curtido combines Hellmann’s Mayonnaise with freshly sliced red and green cabbage, red pepper, and apple cider vinegar for a light and tangy side that pairs perfectly with the stuffed pupusas. Hellmann’s is committed to real, quality ingredients such as 100% cage free eggs and responsibly sourcing their oils from trusted American farms, which is a very important thing for me as I source my ingredients, plus growing up consuming Hellman’s, there’s no other mayonnaise on my grocery list!
The combination of hot off the griddle pupusas with the cold, tangy curtido really is unbeatable! This recipe is dairy free and gluten free by nature. If you’d like to recreate this recipe into a vegan version, just substitute the seafood for hearts of palm and mushrooms, seasoned just as bright with the lime. It’s a recipe the entire family can enjoy and one that’s perfect for those end of summer get togethers with friends.
Salvadoran Pupusas with Seafood Curtido
For the bean stuffing:
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion diced
- 3 garlic gloves chopped
- 1 Knorr Chicken Boullion cube
- 1 can red beans
For the seafood salad:
- ½ pound scallops cooked
- ¼ pound lobster meat cooked
- 8-10 each shrimp cooked and tail removed
- 2 limes juiced
- 1 tablespoon Hellman's Mayonnaise
For the slaw:
- ½ red cabbage thinly sliced
- ½ green cabbage thinly sliced
- ¼ cup Hellman's Mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
For the pupusas:
- 2 cups corn masa
- 2 ½ cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Make the bean stuffing first, as it's best used when fully cooled and thick. Over high heat in a small pot, saute the onions and garlic with the oil until they are a bit caramelized. Add the bullion cube and beans, stir and cook for about 30 minutes until vegetables are tender. Blend until smooth in blender and set aside.
- To make the seafood salad, chop all the cooked seafood and place in bowl. Mix in lime juice and mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep refrigerated.
- To make the slaw, mix all the ingredients together and keep refrigerated.
- Once ready to serve, make the pupusas by combining the water, salt, and corn masa together. Knead in a large bowl until mixed and let rest 15 minutes before using. Form into balls and stuff by placing a hole in each ball and filling with a tablespoon of beans. Seal the hole and lightly press flat. Another way is by using a rolling pin to stretch the dough flat and then fill and seal - either way works! Some of the filling will seep out, but that's okay, you're not a Salvadoran Abuela! Preheat a cast iron pan or griddle and cook on both sides until lightly charred.
- Serve hot topped with the seafood salad and slaw. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: This recipe is part of a sponsored collaboration with Vive Mejor and Knorr. All opinions and photos are my own.