Papusa and Slaw- El Salvador

Papusa and Slaw- El Salvador

If you liked the Bruneian Murtabak, you’re going to love this. These are a popular street food in El Salvador- and I think they’re going to become a staple here. Usually, papusa are served with a cabbage and jicama slaw, but I couldn’t find jicama anywhere, so I just threw in a ton of cilantro! When in doubt, throw in a ton of cilantro. Who said that? Confucius?






1 ½ c flour

9 tablespoons water (AKA ½ C water plus one tablespoon)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt



Refried beans, cheese, chorizo, black beans- anything goes!




½ cabbage

2 cups cilantro, chopped

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup milk

2 teaspoons vinegar

2 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon oregano

1 tablespoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon cayenne.

Pour the flour

and salt into a bowl. Mix them together with a wooden spoon. Or spatula. Or your bare hands.

Now pour in the oil and water. That’s really all you need. And I don’t know if I’ve stressed this enough- THESE ARE SO GOOD. They’ll make you forget about the dumpster fire that this country is! And not many things can do that.


So mix it all up, it might seem like too much flour, but use a bit of elbow grease, and it’ll all be peachy. It’ll be a bit rough, so knead it!

Kneading does wonders for dough. You could make this in a stand mixer, and use the dough hook, but it can’t compare to when you do it by hand. Plus, it’ll give you muscles. I’m all for anything that gives you muscles. Except, you know, weights and push ups. That’s boring. Once it’s all smooth, divide the dough into chunks, and sprinkle some flour on a cutting board.

Pour some oil into a deep frying pan, and heat it up.


Roll around a piece of dough, and flatten it with a tortilla press, rolling pin, or your bare hands. I had neither the time nor the inclination to do the first two, and you know what? The papusas turned out just fine.

Plop in some refried beans, and then grudgingly grate some cheese,

and throw that in there. Except for the cheese grating part, this is a lot of fun to make. I’m a big believer in not doing anything I don’t enjoy. Have you seen the psycho in chief? Enjoy life while you still can. Buy the shoes. Ask your mom to grate the cheese.

Now fold the edges up, so it looks kind of like a dumpling, and then flatten it. On the outside, it’s an unassuming disk of dough. On the inside? Creamy beans, spicy cheese, and lotsa love. Don’t judge by appearances! However, if someone is wearing so much spray tan they look like a cheeto gone very wrong (Looking at you, Tapioca Lungfish), run.

Carefully place it into the oil- I put it on a slotted spatula and lower it. Hot oil splashing everywhere is the last thing you want.

Continue the process of rolling, stuffing, and frying the papusa until all the dough is gone (snack on one while you cook. It’s hard work, you know!)

and in the meanwhile, make the slaw! Slice up the cabbage and cilantro and throw it in. This is somewhat similar to a coleslaw, which I would eat 3 times a day and twice on Monday if I could. I missed the bite of the jicama, though! If you can get your hands on any, definitely use it.

Pour in the milk, mayo, and vinegar- it’s okay if it has some lumps. Then add in the spices, and some salt,

and toss it with tongs. Taste it- you might need to add some sugar.

Serve the papusas with a healthy serving of slaw- this makes a great lunch, dinner, breakfast, snack, or brunch! I’m eating one right now


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