What Are Pupusas Salvadoreñas?

With that strange name you may ask what are pupusas Salvadoreñas?  Let me put it this way, have you ever had the opportunity to eat in a Salvadorian restaurant or food stand? If so, chances are that you have eaten a pupusa, often considered the national dish of El Salvador. Essentially a thick, filled corn tortilla, they are a delicious example of not only Salvadorian food, but also Mesoamerican cuisine.

The ingredients for making pupusas are very simple: masa (ground corn mixed with water) and filling. Common ingredients include cheese, beans, pork and flor de loroco or loroco flower.  You can add this fillings individually or you can combine them.

Pupusas are traditionally served with tomato sauce, curtido (pickled cabbage with carrots and onions), and chile sauce, added to taste.

Making Pupusas

Watching an experienced cook form pupusas is fascinating – the masa goes from a lump, to a ball, to a hollow moon shape which is then filled and patted into a thick pancake and tossed on the grill or comal… all in the blink of an eye.

When making a pupusa, perhaps the most challenging – and most important – part is making sure the two sides don’t fall apart. Proportions are key, and, similar to tortillas, the texture of the masa must be soft and pliant, yet not runny.

The History of Pupusas

Pupusas: a Salvadorian staple, shown with traditional accompaniments.

Pupusas: a Salvadorian staple, shown with traditional accompaniments.

The history of pupusas goes back to the Pipil people in pre-Columbian times, and utensils used to make pupusas have even been found at archaeological sites. Written history dates to 1570, when Fray Bernardino de Sahagún wrote about a food consisting of cooked masa mixed with meat and beans.

While there is not complete agreement as to the etymology of the word “pupusa,” it is likely to have come from word or combination of words in Nahuatl, the language of the Pipil. Perhaps the most accepted explanation is that it comes from combining the words popotl (meaning big or stuffed) and tlaxkalli (tortilla) into the word popotlax.

Popularity of Pupusas

Other Latin American cuisines  also have foods that are similar to pupusas, such as South American arepas. Unlike pupusas, however, arepas are filled after cooking (instead of before) and are used much like pita bread, with an endless array of sandwich-like fillings.

The popularity of pupusas extends beyond the El Salvador borders. They are a staple in Salvadorian expat communities, such as the Washington, D.C., area, where you can easily find pupuserías and food trucks specializing in the tasty snack. Frozen pupusas can even be found in many grocery stores in areas with large Hispanic populations.

Other Central American countries such as Nicaragua and Costa Rica have also adopted the pupusa as a standard in their taquerías and small restaurants. In Costa Rica, for example, they are a staple of the food stalls at regional carnivals known as fiestas.

Now that you now what are pupusas Salvadoreñas the next time you have a chance to try this traditional Latin food staple, go for it!

Have you tried a pupusa?

Simple Cuban Pork Recipe To Lick Your Fingers

Is finding a simple Cuban pork recipe a chore? I guess this happens because there is more information about Mexican and Puerto Rican cultures in the U.S. than that of any other Latin American ethnicity. I admit there are not a ton of recipes and even articles about Cuba in Hispanic Culture Online, but I want this to change.

Recently I was introduced to delicious Cuban food and I can tell it is famous for its fun yet sophisticated blend of citrusy Caribbean flavors and spices.

I also noticed how important pork is for Cubans, so I decided that a simple Cuban pork recipe for masitas de puerco fritas or fried pork chunks can give you a true taste of Cuba right at your own home.

To be a super star pair this sweet and savory dish with other staples of Cuban cooking, such as black beans and rice or moros y cristianos, fufu or mashed fried plantains, and avocado salad.

Don’t forget to wash all these Cuban dishes down with some mojitos and then enjoy some cafecitos with flan or Cuban pastry for dessert.

Simple Cuban Pork Recipe

Do you know the secret? First, you must prepare your garlic-citrus marinade, which will give the pork its rich Cuban flavor.

Cuban Marinated Pork Shoulder

Cuban Marinated Pork Shoulder

Ingrediets

12 garlic cloves

1 big red onion

½ cup of olive oil

1 teaspoon of oregano

1 teaspoon of cumin

½ cup of Seville orange juice

Preparation

Peel and crush the 12 cloves of garlic and scrape them into a large bowl. Don’t cheat by using garlic powder or pre-minced garlic.

Chop up 1 big onion and add it to the bowl, followed by ½ cup of olive oil, 1 teaspoon each of oregano and cumin, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ cup Seville orange juice. Mix well.

We call Seville oranges sour oranges or bitter oranges. They have thick, light yellow peels, tons of seeds and are definitely too sour for eating on their own.

If you can’t find a Seville orange, you can always substitute regular orange juice mixed with lime juice. So in this recipe you would use ¼ cup regular orange juice and ¼ cup lime juice for your substitution.

Once the marinade is ready, you have to prepare the pork. This amount of marinade will flavor up to 2 ½ pounds of pork.

The best type of pork to use for this simple Cuban pork recipe is fresh pork tenderloin. Cut the tenderloin into cubes about 2 inches on each side. Don’t worry too much about cutting every bit of fat out—the fat will help with the flavor later.

Drop your pork cubes into the marinade, ensuring that all the cubes are well covered by the liquid. Leave them in the marinade for a minimum of 3 hours. It’s even better if you can let the mix sit overnight. Of course the marinating pork should be in your refrigerator this whole time.

After the pork is fully marinated, get out a big pot and add 2 cups of water and ½ cup olive oil. Take the pork out of the marinade with a slotted spoon or your hands and put it in the pot.

Turn on the heat and raise the mix to a low boil. Continue simmering for about 35 minutes, or until all the water has boiled off. Allow the pork to brown slightly and get crispy in the remaining oil.

Throw some extra onion slices into the pot and sauté just a little bit. It is important to keep a careful eye on the pork at this point to avoid overcooking it.

Serve the pork hot with the Cuban sides you’ve prepared, and enjoy.

I would love to hear your opinion about this recipe, and if you are Cuban and can give your 2 cents about how to improve the recipe please do so!  Thanks for reading and please leave your comment.

My Real Cuban Bread Recipe

Thinking about introducing some Cuban flavor in your cuisine?  Here is my Cuban bread recipe, the real one that uses lard to give the famous taste you can’t find anywhere but at homes of real Cubans.

Many consider Cuban food one of the more famous Latin American cuisines–and with good reason. Caribbean and African flavors, like plantains and light citrus-based sauces, infuse this island nation’s cuisine and make it like a foreign vacation for your mouth. Even Cuban bread seems exotic thanks to the special Cuban bread recipe everyone uses.

You might wonder how to get the authentic taste of Cuban cooking without actually visiting Cuba. Well, you can visit one of the areas popular with Cuban Americans, like Chicago, Union City New Jersey, or “Little Havana” in South Florida, where you can find delicious Cuban dishes at restaurants and bakeries.

If you can’t find an authentic Cuban restaurant near you, you’ll just have to do all the cooking yourself. To start with, try making some Cuban sandwiches. They don’t require any impossible to find ingredients like plantain or yucca root, so you can enjoy hot, crusty Cuban sandwiches anywhere you can buy roast pork or ham, Swiss cheese, and mustard. Of course, you still need the Cuban bread. Fortunately, you can make it at home using this authentic Cuban bread recipe.

Cuban Bread Recipe

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1. Dissolve 1 tablespoon of yeast and 2 teaspoons of sugar in 1/4 cup of warm water. Let the mixture stand in a warm area for about 10 minutes. It should get very foamy and nearly double in size.

2. Heat 1/4 cup of lard in the microwave for about 90 seconds until fully melted. Yes, you have to use lard. No substitutes!

3. Sift together 2 cups of bread flour and 2 cups of all-purpose flour.

4. Pour the yeast mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add 1 cup of warm water and 2 teaspoons of salt.

5. Begin adding the sifted flour and the melted lard to the yeast and water mixture a little bit at a time. You want to add enough flour so that the dough becomes elastic. Usually this means about 3 1/4 cups of your sifted flour.

6. When your dough looks good, knead it for about 10 minutes on a flat surface lightly dusted with flour.

7. Grease up a large bowl and place your kneaded dough ball inside. Roll the dough around so it picks up some grease on all sides.

8. Cover the bowl with a moist kitchen towel and let it rest for in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until you see the dough just about double in size. If your kitchen isn’t that warm, you can preheat your oven to 160F, then shut it off and let the dough rest in there.

9. Using a rolling pin, roll out the risen dough on a floured surface. Then roll up the flattened dough into a cylinder. Pinch the ends shut with your fingers and a bit of water.

10. Place the cylinder (seam side down) onto a baking sheet that has been greased and sprinkled with a bit of cornmeal.

11. Allow the bread to rise again for another hour. Drape some plastic wrap over it so it doesn’t dry out.

12. Preheat your oven to 450F with a pan of water inside on the lowest rack.

13. Make a shallow cut down the center of the bread, and brush the surface lightly with water.

14. Bake for 5 minutes, then brush again with water.

15. Bake for 12-18 more minutes until lightly browned and crispy!

That is all you need, some time and ingredients and enjoy!  When you make this recipe please let me know how did it come out, I would love you to share your experience.

Latin Christmas Foods in the Caribbean

From Cuba to The Dominican Republic

Tamales Caribeños

Tamales Caribeños
by All About You God

Ahhh, the wonderful smell of Latin Christmas foods in the Caribbean. Keep reading to find dishes, main appetizers, and desserts we use to celebrate not only “Nochebuena” but also throughout the Christmas season including the Epiphany on January 6 in the Caribbean from Cuba to The Dominican Republic.

The three main islands utilize different foods for the main course during “Nochebuena,” for example “lechón asado” -barbecued pig in Cuba is the top dish and a “must,” “niño envuelto” -stuffed cabbage in the Dominican Republic, and roasted pork in Puerto Rico are the most typical Latin Christmas foods in the Caribbean.

Roasted Pig

Roasted Pig
by Martiniko

Hispanic Christmas foods in Cuba besides the “lechón asado” include “moros y mristianos” -black beans and rice, “tostones” -made of fried green plantain, and “yuca” with garlic.

Cubans have very tasty desserts like “arroz con leche” -rice pudding very common through out Hispanic America, “boniatillo” -a sweet potato pudding, and of course “buñuelos” -fritters.

What do they drink? Simple my friend… “cuba libre” -invented there, and is the mix of rum and coke and the famous “mojito Cubano,” a drink made of rum and mint.

Puerto Ricans serve the roasted pork with rice with “gandules” -beans, “tostones” similar to the Cubans, and “pasteles” -tamales made with meat and wrapped in banana tree leaves.

The “lechón asao” takes all day long to cook therefore Puerto Ricans make a great event around it and it is not only for Christmas Eve. To marinate the pig they make a sauce by combining garlic, sweet seeded chili peppers, lime juice, vinegar, olive oil and salt.

For dessert Puerto Ricans serve sweet confections such as “tembleque”, “arroz con dulce”, “rosca de Reyes”, and vanilla and coconut “flan.”

Latin Christmas drinks in the Caribbean include “ponche” in Cuba besides the “Mojito Cubano” and the “Cuba Libre,” and “coquito” in Puerto Rico which have similar ingredients to eggnog. Slight recipe variations from country to country seal the drink’s own personality. The majority of these drinks use evaporated milk, egg yolks, rum, and condensed milk.

How to Make Cuban Pork Roast

My Secret on How to Make Cuban Pork Roast
Taste the Best!

How to Make Cuban Pork Roast

How to Make Cuban Pork Roast

If you have ever had the pleasure of celebrating Christmas or any other special occasion with a Cuban family, you already know how delicious an authentic Cuban pork roast is! I think it is the most succulent and flavorful pork I have ever tasted.

It is certainly an interesting change from the American version, pulled pork, which is drenched in barbeque sauce rather than laden with exotic Caribbean spices like a Cuban pork roast.

What I learnt that night at my Cuban’s friend get together was that making a pork roast the Cuban way involves slow-roasting a whole pig in a special wooden “caja china” roasting box for an entire day.

You probably don’t have a “caja china,” but you can still enjoy the flavors of this delicious Cuban food by cooking a smaller roast in your oven or barbeque grill. Pay attention as I’m going to give you the authentic recipe here, which you can scale down for smaller roasts quite easily.

Find Your Ingredients

My friend assured me that the first step to making your roast is selecting the right ingredients and that the hardest part is probably finding the right cut of meat. Cubans either roast a whole pig or a fresh bone-in ham.

If you can’t get an uncooked, uncured bone-in ham at your grocery store or butcher, you can substitute for a pork shoulder. The tricky part is finding a shoulder that has a nice layer of fat on it, and preferably the skin on it as well.

The only other ingredient that might give you trouble in this recipe is sour orange juice. This is a special Cuban flavor and it’s hard to get outside of areas where people do a lot of Cuban cooking. Fortunately, I got the best way for you to substitute the sour orange juice if you can’t find it. Just use two parts orange juice, one part lime juice, and one part lemon juice to mimic the flavor of sour orange juice.

How to Make Cuban Roast Pork – Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 four to six pound pork shoulder or bone-in ham
  • 2 cups sour orange juice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons each of oregano and cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 20 cloves of garlic, mashed

Prepping the Meat

On the night before you plan to make your roast, prep the meat by piercing it all over with a knife. Set the meat in a large bowl or cooking pan. Take about 2 tablespoons of salt and rub all over the meat, including down into the holes you’ve just made.

Now create your marinade by blending the sour orange juice, garlic, bay leaf, cumin, pepper, oregano, and salt. This is your “mojo” or Cuban marinade and it’s what gives the roast pork its special Cuban flavor. Pour 1 cup of mojo into a container and set it aside for later. Take the rest of the mojo and pour it over your meat. Again, be sure to get some mojo into the holes in the meat. Add just a dash more oregano, cumin, and pepper to the top of the meat, cover it with foil, and stick it in the fridge to marinate.

Cooking the Roast

When cooking the roast, you can choose to use your oven or a barbeque grill. Either one will do a good job mimicking the effect of the authentic Cuban “caja china”.

If you want to use the oven, preheat your oven to 450 degrees, then reduce it to 225 degrees as soon as you put the roast inside. Continue cooking 6 to 8 hours or until the pork juices run clear when you cut it. If you have a meat thermometer, you’ll know to remove the roast when it hits 195 degrees.

If you want to use your barbeque grill, make sure that you don’t have heat directly under the meat. You can mound up hot charcoal on the sides of the grill, or use only the back or side burners on a gas grill. When cooking on the grill, I definitely recommend using a meat thermometer to make sure the roast hits 195 degrees.

No matter which cooking method you choose, you will want to ladle a bit of the extra mojo over the roast every hour or so to keep it moist and juicy. Be sure you have at least half a cup of mojo left at the end. You will need to sautee some sliced onions and half a cup of drippings from the pork roast in the mojo in order to create the final topping for your pork roast.

Sounds like a lot of work when you read the process on how to make Cuban pork roast but I can assure you it is well worth the effort. The flavor is to die for. This is one of my favorite Hispanic recipes. Let me know what you think of this recipe and if you have any secrets to add to make it even better.

Coconut Cookie Recipe

Besitos de Coco Coconut or Cookie Recipe
From the Spanish Speaking Islands

My friend María Espada talks about the wonderful desserts she grew up enjoying in Puerto Rico. When I ask Dominicans about coconut cookies they say “ajá, besitos de coco,” and strangely enough when I asked my friend Verito from Santa Marta, Colombia, about galletas de coco she tells me the same…”you mean besitos de coco.”

Aren’t these coconut cookies supposed to be from the Caribbean Islands only?  Well …we have to look a bit into their origin.  Even though many sources cite indigenous origins I still think these tasty treats came from African slaves. Who knows… probably mixed with indigenous touches.

For sure desserts with coconut were a delicacy amongst plantation owners and slaves who enjoyed them on special occasions, as Andres Ramos Mateii PHD, explains in his paper “Los Habitos Alimenticios de la Poblacion Trabajadora en las Haciendas Azucareras de Puerto Rico, Siglo XIX.”

coconut-cookie-recipe

Coconut Cookie Recipe – Besitos de Coco

In South American countries, coconut recipes came from African slaves who arrived with Spanish and Portuguese conquerors, that is why I think we not only have besitos de coco in the Caribbean islands but also in countries like Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil that had black influence.

Besitos de coco are so popular that the great Puerto Rican singer Ismael Rivera immortalized a song with the name of this tasty treat amongst the Latin community in the U.S.

So here it is! The famous yet simple “kind of” Spanish coconut cookie recipe. I highly recommend it for Valentines either as a treat for your special loved one or to make it as a family with your children.

Ingredients:
  • 1 big dry coconut
  • 4 Tbsp of butter
  • 8 Tbsp of wheat flower
  • 1/4 Tbsp of vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
How to Prepare:
  • Pre-heat the oven at 350F
  • Take the butter out of the fridge early so it is soft
  • Wash and shred the pulp of the coconut. You need 3 cups.
  • Combine the coconut with all the ingredients to form small balls with the mix.
  • Place the balls in a glass baking dish (grease it before hand) or baking sheet.
  • Bake the besitos for about 35 to 40 minutes until golden.

Cuban Food How Is it?

Who doesn’t enjoy the Cuban sabor? Cubans are probably one of the most well known Latino groups in the United States, and of course they are most famous for their food!

For years, my family headed to south Florida for vacation each spring, and we would always stop at our favorite restaurant for a heaping plate of delicious Cuban food: tamales, Cuban black beans, and maybe a bit of flan for dessert.

Cuba can be hard to visit, but if you find yourself in the Miami area, you can get a little taste of Cuba by visiting Calle Ocho and the surrounding Cuban neighborhoods. You’ll see the Cuban flag flying on every corner and plenty of bakeries, restaurants and cafes.

Where Does Cuban Cuisine Come From?

Cuban food is a mix of Spanish, African, and Caribbean cuisines, which makes sense because these three groups of people have been living on the island for centuries now.

African slaves brought their taste for root vegetables and a habit of mixing rice with all kinds of foods, as well as a love of plantains.

The Caribbean influence is apparent in the use of seafood and light, citrusy sauces. Cuban food’s spice palate is also similar to what is found in the rest of the Caribbean.

The Spanish influence on Cuban cuisine is strongest in Havana and western Cuba, where European-style omelets are common.

The Elements of a Typical Cuban Meal

Appetizer

Tamales, which are a sort of dumpling made with corn flour and pork and cooked inside a corn husk, can be served as a main course, but they are more traditionally presented as an appetizer.

Salad

A salad of lettuce, tomato, and avocado is typical. In my mind, salad is optional–don’t fill up on greens where there is more exciting Cuban cooking at hand.

Cuban Rice and Beans

As in many Caribbean countries, some sort of rice and bean dish can always be found on a Cuban table.

Red beans and rice is known as congri while black beans and rice is called moros or simply moros y cristianos.

Often the rice and beans are flavored with “sofrito”, a blend of sautéed onions, garlic, and green peppers.

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Viandas

Vianda is the Cuban term for any of the starchy tubers served along with meat, like yucca root, potatoes, and even plantains or unripe bananas.

Meat

Although you’d expect seafood to play a big role in Cuban cuisine, in reality meats like pork and beef are much more common. One popular meat dish is ropa vieja, or beef simmered in tomato sauce until it falls apart into shreds that look like “old clothes”.

Cuban Desserts

Cuban desserts are extremely sweet. When you think about it, this makes perfect sense. Cuba used to and still does grow tons of sugarcane, so naturally sugar has been widely available and Cubans developed a taste for it.

Popular desserts include flan, capuchinos (cones of yellow cake soaked in sugar syrup), tropical fruit tarts, and meringue puffs. Sugarcane juice is also a popular drink.

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If you don’t have the time or appetite for a full Cuban meal, you can always grab a Cuban sandwich. A hot sandwich sort of like a panini, a Cuban sandwich typically consists of roast pork or ham, Swiss cheese, and mustard between two slices of light and crusty Cuban bread.

Cuban Black Bean Soup Recipe Frijoles Cubanos

Now that the holidays are over, I find myself turning to Cuban recipes to distract me from the long, gray, northern winter.

It’s amazing how something as simple as a piece of hot, crusty Cuban bread or a bowl of Cuban black beans can instantly transport me back to my childhood days in south Florida, where Cuban food was king and you could actually leave the house without getting frostbite.

My favorite recipe this winter is Cuban black bean soup. We used to make this soup to ward off the slight chill of Florida nights, but I’ve discovered it can counteract the bitter cold of a northern winter just as well.

I love the process of cooking this soup, savoring the aroma for hours and then finally curling up with a steaming bowl in front of my fireplace! If you want a delicious reminder of tropical weather and Cuban culture, this is the recipe for you.

My Favorite Cuban Black Bean Soup Recipe

In order to make this soup the Cuban way, you have to start the night before with dry beans. However, if you really want to, you can take a shortcut and create this soup in one day using 45 ounces of canned beans.
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1. Prepare 1 pound of dry black beans by washing them in a colander with cold water. Be sure to look for any little rocks or broken beans and throw them away.

2. Soak the beans overnight in a large pot. Add enough water so that the beans are about 1 inch below the surface.

3. The next morning, drain the water and refill with clean water.

4. Chop up 1 medium red onion, 1 green bell pepper, and 3 cloves of garlic. Sauté these ingredients in a pan with a bit of olive oil until just softened. Add 1 teaspoon of cumin and cook for 1 minute.

5. Add contents of the pan to the pot. Also add 2 bay leaves, 1 ham hock, half a cup of olive oil, and about 2 teaspoons each of salt and black pepper.

6. Bring to a boil, skim off any foam, then cover and simmer for 4 to 5 hours. Be sure to check the soup after about 2 hours and add more water if needed.

7. When the beans are soft and the soup has thickened due to some of the beans breaking down, add one third of a cup of white vinegar and cook uncovered for an additional 15 minutes. This is what gives the soup its special tang.

8. Remove from heat and serve!

How to Serve Your Cuban Black Bean Soup

Serve it hot with sour cream and chopped onions as a garnish. Like many dishes in Cuban cooking, this soup pairs well with white rice and it is often served on top of a bowl of rice. Personally I like mine with a slice of Cuban bread instead of rice.

One of the best advices I can give you is to use a pressure cooker to make the job easier. The pressure cooker will save you about 4 hours of work while sealing in the flavor and preserving the nutrients of the beans.

To learn more about pressure cookers, how to choose the best one and why they are part of Latino culture check the section Best Pressure Cookers.

If you are just starting to learn about Hispanic cooking or dishes and the tools we use in our kitchens see Latin Kitchen Tools to learn more.

Best Latin Kitchen Tools

Latin Kitchen Tools

Latin Kitchen
Tools

Best Pressure Cookers

Best
Pressure Cookers

Buying Your Molcajete

Buying Your
Molcajete