Friday, April 16, 2010

Pupusa Time

Dinner with Stella the other night at Izalco, a Salvadoran restaurant. One of the many benefits of meeting the nice people, such as Stella, of the Jackson Heights Food Group is that if I put up a post on Facebook on a Thursday afternoon to see if anyone feels like dinner in Queens that night, someone is bound to answer, since they live here too. It's great. So that's how dinner happened. Forgive me, people of El Salvador, for using Mexican cuisine as my frame of reference, but with the same names, the comparisons are inevitable.

I ordered horchata to drink, which is very different in flavor from Mexican horchata, in case you were wondering. Mexican horchata is made from rice milk and Mexican cinnamon. Horchata at Izalco, as the waiter told us, is made from rice, milk, peanuts, and a special seed from El Salvador. This special seed, I am assuming, is the morro seed, or calabash. I liked the drink, it was nutty, sweet, and light.

We ordered three types of pupusas: chicharron, queso, and mixtos (beans and chicharron)
Pupusas are corn cakes made from corn masa, much like a Mexican gordita, stuffed with various fillings. They are usually served with a mild tomato sauce and curtido, a vinegar-y cabbage salad.
The three pupusas.

The bean pupusa, topped with the cabbage. Of the three pupusas, the bean filling was mild, the chicharron was not really seasoned, but the cheese had the strongest flavor and most contrast of textures. Earthy corn, griddled crisp outside, soft insde, then melty, salty cheese.

I love cabbage.

I also love Salvadoran tamales de elote (corn tamales) because they are what I imagine all tamales should taste like: soft, sweet, and of fresh corn. Like the best corn bread you could imagine. Plus it doesn't hurt that they serve them with sour cream.

This strange looking picture was the Salvadoran Enchilada. Nothing like a Mexican enchilada. A crisp fried tortilla (tostada in Mezican, as my favorite dishwasher Juan used to say) topped with a mix of meat and potatoes, finally chopped, which reminded us both of empanada filling, and then that was topped with more cabbage. The crunch of the tortilla with the soft potato and tender meat, and the crisp, sharp cabbage was an unexpected and absolutely delicious combination. The hit of the night. A good, cheap dinner. There is a much larger menu with entrees and platters that go for $13 and up, which we did not try. It was too much fun to order small plates. Still lots to do in Woodside, I have to catch up on my eating. This week I'm in Jersey catering, so it's slow going, but I'll be back, and ready to eat, on Monday.

6405 Roosevelt Ave

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