Hola homies! It’s your girl, Bernie, author of Herencia Cookbook, full of traditional SalviMex recipes with a modern (and sometimes healthy-ish) twist. I am here today to answer the question, what are some popular Salvadoran dishes? I am a Los Angeles Latina who loves herself some good Salvadoran food every now and then. So, read on for my top ten favorite foods from all over El Salvador. And, enjoy some fun facts about and tips!
What Are Some Popular Salvadoran Dishes: Top Ten
If you ask me, pupusas are probably the most popular Salvadoran dishes out there. I would even say that pupusas are to Salvadorian cuisine what tacos are to Mexican cuisine. A pupusa is made of corn or rice based dough that is wrapped around beans or cheese and patted to form like a thick, stuffed tortilla, or a flat dumping. Further, you garnish it with curtido, which is like a more mild version of sauerkraut, and salsa. Additionally, as a child, I ate plain cheese pupusas on their own with my hands. It was one of my favorite foods! Now as an adult, I love to garnish them with curtido and salsa and eat them with a fork. Therefore, I’ve come a long way with my pupusa eating skills!
You can learn more about Curtido here.
Check out my recipe for the Herencia Pupusa here.
Learn to make pupusas de arroz here.
Learn the pupusa patting technique here.
Panes con Pollo
In my family, it is not the holiday season if we don’t enjoy Panes Con Pollo! This meal is like a gourmet sandwich. A pan frances or bolillo is cut and inside there is shredded, juicy chicken. The chicken itself is slow-cooked in flavorful spices. Then, the sandwich contains toppings like watercress, tomatoes, and radish. The whole meal is so delicious and satisfying!
Sopa de Gallina
The ultimate comfort food, sopa de gallina is like a mama’s hug in a bowl. For example, in my first trimester of pregnancy, almost everything grossed me out. My mom bought me some Sopa de Gallina from a local Salvi restaurant and added lots of lime. I ate every single bit. It was so delicious and nutritious. I will always remember this meal because it was one of the few meals I could actually enjoy while constantly nauseous during my first trimester!
Platano fritos is also known as fried plantains. I absolutely love to enjoy fried plantains for breakfast, alongside a handmade corn tortilla, queso fresco, and some casamiento. Plantains are sweet, and eating them alongside savory breakfast foods can create a meal that makes you palette dance with excitement. It’s weird, but in my head, my mom makes the best plantains. I know all plátanos are the same but something about eating fried plantains that my mom made me just hits different! Perhaps it is the comforting memories of my childhood that come to mind. Either way, I love me some plátanos for breakfast every now and then!
Learn how to make platanos in the air fryer here.
Casamiento refers to the marriage between beans and rice! Furthermore, this food represents the mestizaje of Latinos. Beans are native to Latin America. The Spaniard colonizers introduced rice. History lessons aside, casamiento is a great food for meal preppers who want to mix up their meals. You can enjoy this food alone, as a side dish, or as a base to a burrito bowl. Like a lot of the Salvis I know, casamiento is resourceful and adaptable. Leftover black beans and rice are mixed together to create this comfort food. What’s more, my suegra typically adds a pinch of Knorr Caldo De Polllo seasoning to give the casamiento extra flavor.
Checkout my casamiento video here.
You can find my casamiento recipe here.
Have you ever eaten yuca frita (aka fried yuca)? You may have heard it referred to as cassava. Did you know? A lot of tapioca is made from yuca starch! Further, yuca is a resilient plant that thrives where other plants may not. It has a similarity in texture and yumminess to a potato. For instance, fried yuca is crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. I love it dipped into (or drizzled with) salsa or garlic sauce.
Yuca can be a bit tough to work with. Here are some tips.
Learn how to make yuca in the air fryer here.
A lot of us may be familiar with tamales that are wrapped in a corn husk. But did you know that Salvadorian tamales are wrapped in banana leaves? Salvi tamales have masa that is so gooey and delicious. Additionally, they are a comforting meal that many families enjoy on special occasions. I recommend trying a Salvadorian tamal the next time you visit a Salvi restaurant! Or, ahi te invito to the next tamalda!
Pastelitos are like savory dumplings. For example, the dough is made from Maseca and seasoned with paprika. Then, the filling can be a mix of ground beef and vegetables. Once assembled, we fry the pastelitos. I typically enjoy them with a side of salad. I am forever grateful to my suegra for teaching me to make these because they are delicious! This is a classic Salvi recipe for sure.
Watch my quesdailla recipe video here.
No, I am not talking about a corn tortilla and melted cheese here. Rather, I am talking about Salvi quesadillas. This type of quesadilla is like if a cheesecake and pound cake had a baby together and a fairy sprinkled delicious magic dust on it. Except the magic dust is sesame seeds. My favorite way to enjoy this pan dulce is with a cup of Salvadorian coffee. Speaking of which…
While technically a beverage and not a food, Salvadorian coffee is absolutely amazing. There are volcanoes in El Salvador that make the soil rich and fertile. This is excellent for growing coffee plants. Additionally, the civil war in El Salvador—as tragic as it was—stopped production of coffee for a few years, which allowed the soil to rest. The soil in El Salvador has not been exhausted the way it has in other coffee-producing countries. I strongly encourage you to try Salvadorian coffee if you haven’t already. I try my best to pick some up directly from the motherland when I visit! When that is not an option, I typically pick up my Salvi coffee here, at El Cielito coffee shop, conveniently located in South Gate.
Learn even more about Salvi food here.
What is your take on popular Salvadoran dishes? Did you agree with the foods (and beverages) discussed in this article? Finally, was there a dish that we totally missed and need to add to our next post? Here, at Herencia Cookbook, we would love to know! Be sure to hit us up in the comments. Finally, if you would like to learn to make a lot of these Salvi foods, be sure to check out my blog and my book for authentic Salvi Mex recipes with a modern (and sometimes healthy) twist. Herencia Cookbook is currently available for sale on Amazon.