Alibi V.15 No.17 • April 27-May 3, 2006 

Bite

Do you know of any Salvadoran restaurants in the Albuquerque/Santa Fe area?--A reader posed the question to me last week, and I was stumped. "I'm jonesing for a pupusa [fried pork-and-cheese-stuffed corn tortillas] and heard there is a restaurant here," he said, "[but] I just can't seem to find it anywhere." Former Alibi Food Editor Gwyn Doland says she's heard similar rumors, but can't put a trace on one either. So I'm turning to you, our voracious readers. Have you heard of a place that serves Salvadoran cuisine? The best advice will be rewarded with coupons good for a night on the town in Albuquerque, and I'll publish your findings right here in the paper. In the meantime, here's a tasty morsel to motivate your search.

Salvadoran Turnovers

Like a cross between a tamale (from the masa corn dough) and an empanada (from its shape and savory filling), these diminutive crescent-shaped pies are great for using up little scraps of leftover food. Serve with a cold Central or South American Pilsner or a fruit juice.
Makes 24 turnovers

Ingredients:

1/2 cup chickpeas, mashed
1/2 cup diced, cooked potatoes
1/2 cup green beans, cooked and chopped
1/2 cup diced, lean, cooked pork
1 tablespoon chopped onion
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups masa
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cup lukewarm water
Oil for frying

Instructions:

1. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the chickpeas, potatoes, green beans, pork, onion, tomato paste and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Cover and set aside.

2. In another medium-sized bowl, combine the masa and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Gradually add enough water, stirring constantly, to make a stiff dough. Divide into 24 equal pieces, and form each piece into a small ball. Place under a damp towel.

3. Place one ball between two sheets of plastic wrap and flatten dough with a plate. Remove top plastic and place a tablespoon of filling in the center of the dough, patting the filling down.

4. Pull a side of the plastic up to flip one half of the dough onto itself, covering the filling and forming a crescent shape. Press edges together with a fork and place under a damp towel. Repeat with the remaining turnovers.

5. Pour 1/4- to 1/2-inch of the oil in a nonstick or cast iron frying pan. Heat over a medium-low flame. Place a few turnovers in the hot oil and fry in batches until each side is golden, about 5 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels. Allow to cool slightly before serving.