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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Learning to Make Papusas

Carol s/v NautiMoments, Gizelle s/v Dancing Dolphin and Sandy s/v I Yam What I Yam
taking pastelillo making lessons
The food here in El Salvador is an adjustment for us. We are used to the spicy Mexican chilies, the moles, the salsas… But, El Salvadorans don’t eat spicy food. And they eat a lot of fried food… food that may be okay for my skinny family, but I am getting fluffy and don’t need to be eating fried anything! With that being said…

Ingredients provided by the staff of Bahia del Sol
The staff at Bahia del Sol offered a free cooking class, which I very much enjoyed. We learned the art of making papusas, empanadas (different than in Mexico), and pastelillos. And then we ate them! And don’t you agree that it would have been totally rude of me not to sample all of the foods, fried or not – but mostly fried?

Captain of s/v Lorelei helping himself to homemade El Salvadoran treats
Papusas are a traditional El Salvadoran food. As you will find taco stands everywhere in Mexico, you will find papuserias everywhere in El Salvador. They are a grilled flat corn bread. Some are filled: beans, cheese and/or chicharones (shredded pork, not pork rind). The filled ones cost around 75 cents each.

Dora watching our individually made papusas cook
We also learned how to make pastelillos. The pastelillos are comparable to Mexico’s empenada – a little corn pie filled with ground meat and veggies (potatoes, green beans, carrots, onion, garlic) and then fried.

El Salvadoran empanadas are made with plantains, similar to a banana. The plantains are mashed and mixed with a little hot water. They are then hand patted flat and filled with homemade vanilla pudding. The plantain mixture is then wrapped around the pudding into an egg shape. The mixture is then deep friend and rolled in sugar. I don’t know how mine got a little bigger than everyone else’s.

Ken s/v NautiMoments and Fran s/v Gosling enjoying a delicious
pudding filled empanada
The food we made was tasty, but what was going through my mind as I was sampling all of it was how I was going to have to buy the next size up in britches!

Jim and I discovered a little restaurant on the water down the street from Bahia del Sol that serves 2 eggs, a chunk of cheese, beans, fried plantains, French bread and coffee for $2.50. We love to leave the kids sleeping and sneak off for our secret breakfast. The food is cooked on wood burning stove and chickens are running in and out of the kitchen, but the food is wonderful! We’ll have to share our secret breakfast hide-away spot with the kids at some point only because it is what the locals do.

I bought a bouquet of crabs, too. 12 little live crabs bound together with palm fronds cost only $2. They were a little hard to clean up, but I went at them with a toothbrush and then steamed them. They were delicious!

But I think my favorite so far is the fish served whole – again, fried. 


  1. Mmmmm, mmmmmm, mmmmmm! That all looks delicious, especially the fried fish. I wish we could find 12 crabs for $2 around these parts! :)

    Katie and Mark

    1. Well, the crabs were little estuary crabs (I have a photo somewhere, but have lost it - somewhere). They were a tad dirty. But I cleaned them up with a toothbrush and they were delish!

  2. Oh, I loved those fish. I remember them still--15 years later. And El Salvador is where we got hooked on plantains--mmm.
    Maia sends her love to Carolyn--a letter from her is in process.

    1. Those fish are amazing! And yes, the plantains are one of my favorites. Guess what I did yesterday? We picked fresh mangoes and I made chutney with you recipe. Turned out fabulous. Added a little serrano pepper brought from Mexico and some ground cardamom. Oh my! Carolyne has been asking about Maia and she is a lazy loaf not to write. She cleaned out her bed and found things that made her miss Maia deeply. When will you allow your child a Facebook account?? Maybe you'll get lucky and she'll friend you... unlike one of mine. Yes, I know - he's your friend. ;)

    2. Maia is after me for a facebook account so we'll put it together on FALL!! break. Then they can be friends:)

  3. Fluffy, isn't that what happens when a women get gas? And what do you get if you take the R out of britches? So far,I'm not inpressed with the food. You'll have to work on that. ;)

    1. No Jesse, Puffy is what happens when a woman gets gas. And when you take the R out of Britches that's what I become when I can't fit in mine any longer. And coming from the fried taco man, I'm surprised your not on a plane down here right away!

  4. The fish looks a little like hauchaca (a fried red snapper, usually done with LOTS of garlic) which is by far my Mexico favorite. Looks delicious. Enjoy!

    1. Mike - they do have a Red Snapper here - they call it Boca Colorado. They go real light on the seasoning, though. No garlic and butter layer - darn! A trite bland from my spicy tastebuds, but delicious anyway. Another great fish they do down here is Snook, or Rodilo.