I have a bit of OCD when I travel. Of course, we all hear the repeated overhead announcements, “never leave your personal belongings unattended.” But, I sorta have this need to physically be touching all my items at all times. Thankfully, I have never had my purse, camera or other personal item stolen.
But the truth of the matter is, I don’t do it out of fear of it being stolen. I do it out of fear of my memory.
You see, after my time teaching English in Sevilla, Spain was over, I boarded a train direct from Sevilla to Barcelona, where I would be catching my flight home. I was traveling alone and had my large suitcase, oversize purse and carry-on bag. Initially, when I had first landed in Spain, my luggage was lost and it took nearly an entire week for all my belongings to find my little apartment (that’s an entire story for another day). Let’s just say, I learned fast the importance of traveling with all your necessities, and at least one change of clothes.
So, being the prepared traveler that I was, I had my carry-on bag filled with my favorite new Spanish blouse and strappy sandals. If I was going to lose my luggage for another week, those were the clothes I wanted to be wearing everyday (not the boring navy pants and T-shirt I found myself in before). I boarded the train, placed my luggage at the front, gripped my purse tightly to my chest, and placed the carry-on in the overhead compartment…and then drifted off to sleep.
When I awoke, I was in Barcelona for the first time. I realized I had no clue how to get from the train station to the airport and was feeling flustered with everyone rushing to disembark the train. I briskly walked to the exist with everyone else, grabbed my suitcase and tried my best to navigate the bus system to the airport.
I felt a wave of relief when I arrived at the airport and found my way to my gate. It was at that exact moment, when my mind could be at ease, when I realized my carry-on with my favorite new purchases, was no longer by my side. After spending several months shopping in all the fun Spanish stores to find the perfect summer top and shoes, I had lost the bag. Of course, I was grateful to arrive home safely and knew that in the big scheme of things, a few lost items wasn’t too big a deal.
However, since then, I am extra-cautious with all my belongings whenever I travel.
Right. So how does this fit in with Salvadoran Pepusas? Well, it doesn’t really. But when I tasted these warm, cheesy, stuffed tortillas, I was reminded about I would love to travel to El Salvador, and then my mind wandered off to previous travel hiccups…and I thought I’d share this story with you. Are you following?
Really though, I have just been so excited to share this recipe with you! This is one of those recipes that looks like it takes a lot more energy, time and skill than it actually does to put together!
This was my first time buying masa harina (a form of corn flour); I wasn’t too sure where to find it, but sure enough, it was available at Whole Foods and our local grocery store, in the “ethnic foods” aisle. It’s really easy to work with and trust me, tastes delicious when filled with cheese! Oh, and that salad – I’ve never enjoyed eating cabbage so much! It’s light, refreshing and is the perfect contrast to the warm pepusas.
Salvadoran Pupusas de Queso con Curtido (Cheese Stuffed Masa Cakes with Cabbage Slaw)
Adapted from The Kitchn
Keywords: fry entree salad side appetizer vegan vegetarian cheese cabbage
Ingredients (Makes 8 pepusas)
For the Pepusas
- 2 cups masa harina
- Pinch of salt
- 1 1/3 cup warm water
- 1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese (or other preferred cheese)
- 1-2 tbs. oil, plus more for keeping hands oiled
Curtido for the Curtido
- 1/2 head cabbage, shredded
- 1 large carrot, grated (I used a vegetable peeler)
- 1 bell pepper, sliced
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- Pinch red pepper flakes
For the Pepusas
1. Mix together masa harina, salt and water. Knead to form a smooth, moist dough (if the mixture is too dry, add a touch more water; if the mixture is too sticky, add a touch more masa harina). Cover the bowl with a cloth and let stand for 10 minutes.
2. With lightly oiled hands, form the dough into 8 balls that are about 2 inches in diameter. Using your thumb, make an indentation into one of the balls, forming a small hole. Fill the hole with 1 tablespoon of cheese and wrap the dough around the filling to seal it. Pat the dough back and forth between your hands to form a round, flattened disk about 1/4-inch thick. Repeat with the remaining balls, making sure to keep your hands lightly oiled throughout the entire process.
3. Heat 1 tbs. oil in skillet over medium-high. Cook the pupusas for about 3 minutes per side until golden brown, adding additional oil to skillet if needed. Serve warm with curtido (recipe below) on the side and enjoy!
For the Curtido
1. Combine the cabbage, carrot, and pepper in a bowl. Combine the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl and then pour over the cabbage mixture and toss together. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, serve and enjoy!
~Have you had any “travel hiccups?”