I’ve hopped across the bay to San Francisco. I’m not sure for how long, but it certainly has made my commute easier. While I’m generally happier to be in a more urban environment, it’s an unfortunate truth that it is much harder to find groceries here. Berkeley’s markets are hard to match in both abundance and value. At my go-to produce store there, Monterey Market, you could walk away with two giant bags of produce for under twenty dollars. In San Francisco, stores seem to be either super high end or super junky. If you want to buy liquor or cigarettes, or spend your whole paycheck at a local, organic temple to yuppiedom, there’s no problem finding what you’re looking for. But if you want to buy mangoes or tomatoes at a reasonable price, it’s another matter altogether. There are a few exceptions though, and unsurprisingly they tend to be understated and run by immigrants. I’ve had some luck at Asian and Mexican grocery stores, and this blog post is the result of a trip to the latter.
I went to Mi Ranchito, a small Mexican grocery in the Mission District a few days ago and bought a giant bag of Masa Harina. I was originally thinking of buying tortillas, but I’ve always wanted to experiment with different types of antojitos, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I’m convinced that if the apocalypse hits, I could live for at least a month off this bag of corn flour. Mixed with a big of water and cooked in the pan, you can eat tortillas, sopes and gorditas for almost nothing. I also bought nopales (the cactus paddles I mentioned in a previous post), oaxaca cheese, some limes (12 for a dollar!), and some fresh fruit and vegetables.
Papusa are technically Salvadoran, not Mexican, but I have found them to be my favourite thing, so far, to make with Masa Harina. They’re thicker than tortillas, so you don’t need to make that many, and you can also stuff them, so they’re much heartier.
Papusas with Oaxaca Cheese, Veggies and Mango Salsa
2 Nopales pads (spikes removed)
1 clove Garlic
Mix Masa and Water. I don’t use exact measurements, so just pour some into a medium size bowl and slowly mix water in. If it seems dry and breaks as you try to shape it, add more water. I often add in some salt and pepper before mixing with water. Once dough is malleable, but neither too wet nor too dry, set aside for a few minutes (this allows the Masa to fully absorb the water.)
Set a frying pan on medium heat with some oil. Chop onion and nopales into small chunks, and throw into hot pan. Cook on medium heat with some salt, pepper and few dashes of chile powder (whatever seasoning you like, really) until a little bit browned. In the meantime, cut up your mango into chunks, and place into a serving dish. Cut up your avocado into chunks, and place in a serving dish. Add minced garlic and some lime juice (not the whole lime) to the avocado, and mix. Chop a small handful of cilantro. By now, your nopales and onions should be cooked. Remove from the pan, and turn off the heat while you prepare your Papusas.
Grad some Papusa dough in your hands and form it into a small cake. Press it down on the counter top or cutting board, until it is thin and a few inches wide, similar in size to a corn tortillas, but thicker. Thinly slice a few slices of Oaxaca cheese and place on top of the masa circle, staying 1/2 inch from the edges. Make another circle and place it on top of the other, capturing the cheese in the middle. Push down on the corners to lock in the cheese, and make sure the Papusa will not break and drip in the pan. If there are any hole or rips, patch them up with the masa dough. Turn the pan back on, add a tiny bit more oil, if necessary, and cook the Papusa on medium, for a few minutes on each side.
It should be slightly golden when done.
Top your Papusa with onions and nopales, avocado, mango and cilantro. Squeeze on a bit more lime. My was quite heavily loaded (and I only used about half the veggies listed here for one Papusa), so you might want to eat it with a knife and fork (especially since the cheese oozes out!)