♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -Today on "America's Test Kitchen," Dan and Julia make pupusas with curtido, Adam reveals his top picks for soda makers, and Elle makes Bridget crispy fried yuca.
It's all coming up right here on "America's Test Kitchen."
♪♪ -Pupusas are a staple of Latin American cuisine since pre-Columbian times.
It is the national dish of El Salvador.
However, Hondurans also lay claim to the dish.
Now, pupusas are flattened rounds of masa that are stuffed, often with cheese, cooked on a griddle, and served with curtido, a slaw made of cabbage.
And today, Dan's gonna show us how to make them.
-So, pupusas are one of my favorite foods.
-They're so comforting.
And they're really fun to put together.
So I'm excited to get into this one.
And we're gonna start at the core of pupusas, which is masa harina.
It starts with masa that is then dried out.
Masa is made from corn that has been treated with an alkaline solution, and it transforms the corn.
It makes it more kind of nutritionally available.
It changes it and helps it jell so you can make tortillas out of it and everything like that.
It is a marvel of indigenous science that we even have masa.
So this is a really special product, and the dried version of it is really readily available.
So that's what we're gonna work with.
So I have 2 cups of masa harina.
I'm gonna add 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
I'm just gonna whisk in this salt so it's kind of nice and distributed.
So now it's time for our water.
Now, a lot of times you see recipes that call for cool water or sometimes hot tap water.
The hotter the water, as we find when we add it to bread doughs and things like that, the more it's able to absorb into the starch in the flour, and you get a dough that is oftentimes more hydrated but easier to work with.
And so we're gonna lean into that.
We're actually gonna use boiling water in this recipe.
-So it's gonna basically allow us to do a one-to-one ratio.
So we've got 2 cups of masa harina.
We're gonna use 2 cups of water.
It's gonna make it really nice and hydrated.
But you see, it won't be super tacky because we've heated that water up.
And we're gonna do a few tricks throughout to make this just a little bit easier for a novice pupusa maker to work with a little bit more easily.
-So we're gonna add our hot water here.
I'm also gonna add a teaspoon of veg oil, just a little bit of richness to it.
And then I'm just gonna stir to combine.
-Doesn't that smell good?
-It smells so good.
-And that's a huge part of that treating with an alkaline process, that nixtamalization.
It adds so much more flavor to it.
The reason that, like, corn chips taste like anything or tortillas taste like anything is because of that really cool step.
And then once I see no dry pockets, I will stop.
It still has a little hydrating to do.
About 20 minutes' rest will really tighten it up even more.
It's gonna be nicer to work with, a little less sticky.
So I'm just gonna cover and set this aside.
While that is resting, we can come over here and talk about our cheese.
We're gonna kind of mimic a cheese that is traditionally used in El Salvador called quesillo.
And if you can find quesillo, absolutely go for it.
You're gonna look for 10 ounces of it.
We're gonna mimic it here with -- starting with 2 ounces of Cotija cheese, which is a Mexican cheese.
It's got really nice funk to it.
It's a little bit drier.
It's not a great melting cheese.
I'm gonna use our food processor here to get it down to, like, a fine sand consistency.
-Takes about 20 seconds.
This is gonna be, like, pebble it up.
[ Food processor whirring ] -Great, so you can see we've got it down to fine sand consistency, but we need the meltiness, and for that we're gonna go with Monterey Jack.
It's super mild, but it's a young cheese, so it melts beautifully.
And the combination is gonna be really nice.
And we're gonna go for another 30 seconds till it looks kind of like a wet oatmeal mixture.
This looks perfect.
It's gonna be really easy to form into balls, and then those are gonna be really easy to stuff into the pupusas.
So that's -- we're kind of helping ourselves out there.
So I'm just gonna form this into eight cheese balls.
-These are just the portions of cheese that are gonna go into each pupusa.
It just makes life a little bit easier to have it completely done.
They definitely don't need to be perfect.
So we will finish up the rest of these.
We'll have eight cheese balls.
And then it'll be time to move on to the next.
So while our dough continues to rest and hydrate, we're gonna work on the curtido.
So this is, traditionally, an actual fermented preparation, but you see a lot of recipes that are more the quick pickle style, and that's what we're gonna do today.
We're gonna start with apple cider vinegar.
I have a cup.
I have 1/2 cup of water.
A real classic pickling kind of mixture here.
-And then I've got a tablespoon of sugar for some sweetness.
And 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt.
And I'll just whisk this together.
That's dissolved in there, ready to go.
So what's so great about this curtido is, you know, pupusas are gonna be, like, cheesy, crispy, rich, and this is crunchy, acidic, just really that perfect balance to it.
So we're gonna start with cabbage.
-I have a half a head of cabbage here.
And what I like to do is take out the core first here.
So you can just pop that out like that.
I like to peel it into kind of manageable slices that you can flatten.
That's what I like to do.
-That's always the name of the game.
Flat surface, stability is so key.
This way you can really flatten it down.
And then I just like to go to town on it.
You don't have to go this thin.
You can go thicker.
This is such a strong mixture.
It'll totally soften it.
It's not a big deal at all.
So we've got our cabbage.
Transfer this right over to our beautiful pickling liquid.
-Next up, we have an onion.
We're gonna do the same thing here.
We want nice, thin slices.
I notice you're going with the onion grain.
-Yeah, I like -- You could definitely go either way here.
You know, we're not cooking it, so I'm not -- I'm not trying to get it to fall apart.
Want a little bit more bite to it.
Keeping it pole to pole this way, have a little bit more integrity, which is nice.
-Yeah, I agree.
-Nicely done, sir.
Transfer this over here, as well.
Next up, we're gonna do a little carrot for some nice color and crunch.
For that, I'm going do a nice little shred on it.
-Makes quick work of it.
That goes into our bowl.
And then finally veg-wise, a jalapeño.
And we want it stemmed and seeded.
We don't want to be too spicy.
Obviously, if you want more spice, add the ribs, add the seeds.
I'm gonna try and take off the skin and a little bit of the ribs but leave all the other stuff on the inside.
-Like you would a bell pepper, I see people do that with.
-I've actually never seen anyone do this with a jalapeño.
This is fun to watch.
-And you can lay it down.
This last cut here.
-And take that off.
So there -- -I really like that method.
-That's your spicy core right there.
So as much as you want you can mince up and throw that in there.
So we're just gonna mince this.
I really like to do a drag cut through it because they'll stay in lines, as opposed to, like, moving all over the place with your knife.
And your crosscuts.
-Very nicely done.
-And into the bowl.
Alright, so the final addition at this point is a teaspoon of dried oregano.
It's a really key component of a curtido.
-We're just gonna stir this, make sure it's all nice and evenly distributed.
This is gonna go into the fridge for at least one hour or up to 24 hours.
Okay, it is time for the assembly portion of this recipe, which I really love.
So if you watch Salvadoran cooks do this who have done this their whole lives, it's really, really fast and it's all done by hand.
You grab some masa, you put the cheese in, you fold it around it, you pat it out, and you have these beautiful pupusas.
If you're not as practiced with it, it can help to have a few things to kind of guide you.
-That makes sense.
-And so we're gonna do that here today.
This is a gallon ziplock bag.
You can use a quart one as well.
And we're gonna make a four-inch circle on it.
I'm just using a bowl that happens to be four inches in diameter and a permanent marker here.
And I'm just gonna draw right around it.
-So you're making a template for how you're gonna press out the masa?
-Exactly, and at the same time, you know, we have this bag that we can open up, but we want it to be a lot easier to work with.
So I'm actually gonna take off this top here, the little zipper lock, and then I'm gonna slit the sides, as well.
We're gonna keep the bottom attached.
Alright, there we go.
-A little bit of arts and crafts involved.
-Yeah, not my forte, arts and crafts.
I'm gonna flip this over.
You want to make sure that this is nice and dry before you put it on your countertop.
-Don't want any permanent marker on there.
-You flip it over on the underside.
It's not gonna touch the food at all.
So now let's take a look at our dough here.
Now, this has rested, and it's pretty much all the way there.
We're gonna knead it for about 15 to 20 seconds.
You can see it's a little crumbly.
It's gonna come together.
So I'm just gonna knead it right here in the bowl.
And you can see some wet spots and some dry spots.
-You want to get that all kind of incorporated.
-That dough looks beautiful.
So this feels really good to me.
But there's a nice check that we can do to make sure that we have the right hydration level.
I'm just gonna make kind of a golf-ball-sized piece here and press it down until it's about a quarter inch thick.
And if I have really big cracks, like quarter-inch cracks, I'm gonna add a little more moisture to it.
And I do have some decent-sized ones, so I'm gonna add a little bit, kind of 2 teaspoons at a time, until you get to the place you want.
I think this probably just needs 2 teaspoons.
So you can see we had a tiny little crack there, but for the most part, it's totally smooth.
-So we're good to go.
What we're gonna do is divide this into eight pieces.
Gonna cut this in half.
And then with the two sides, I just find it easiest to shape them into a little log so I can really see what I'm doing.
-It's still warm.
-And it feels nice, right?
-This is like a spa treatment.
-And then once you get there, you know, you're just going right down the center and then down the center of each of those.
And that's how you get eight equal pieces out of it.
Roll those into balls.
So we're gonna cover this with a damp towel.
Want to keep them nice and moist.
Back to our beautiful template here.
Gonna take one ball.
Goes right inside.
Kind of center it in that circle there.
-This goes over the top.
-I love this method.
So, you can really see what you're doing.
-And we're using a pie plate so you can see right through it, right?
So that's -- that's nice, too.
-Like, a tortilla press is wonderful for this, but you don't get to see what you're doing exactly.
So I love this, and then we're just pressing it out kind of slowly here.
-It's nice and flexible.
The starch is in really good shape.
Gonna take one of our cheese balls, and then it's really simply bringing it up, almost like if you're forming a dumpling.
-I was just thinking that.
And I just get it right around there and then pinch closed.
It's a very forgiving dough.
The idea is to just really pinch around it, smooth it out, and then once you get into a good shape, you're gonna start rounding.
And would you mind grabbing that water again?
-This is a really nice key, too, is just get a little bit of water on there.
Helps you totally smooth that outside, because if it's smooth here, when we press it again, we're not gonna have cracks.
-This looks beautiful.
So we go right back into our form here.
Put this over the top.
I find if you press a little slower, you get less cracking.
-Wow, that is fun to watch a pupusa come together like that.
Then you can take your fingers.
You know, if there's any little cracks, you can seal them up like that.
-But that is a gorgeous cheese-filled pupusa.
-So that goes back on the tray here.
We'll keep that covered and we'll finish up our eight and then we'll be really close to eating.
It is time to cook.
I have a 12-inch nonstick skillet here.
I have a teaspoon of oil, and I've been heating this over medium-high heat.
The teaspoon of oil is really just there to absorb heat so we're not, you know, dry heating a nonstick skillet, which is not good.
-And it's a good visual indicator.
We can see that it's shimmering.
-So that's awesome.
Gonna use some paper towels to wipe the skillet out.
Now, you can cook pupusas in oil and you can cook them in a dry skillet, like a comal or a griddle.
-You get really different results.
And you'll see when you have a dry skillet, you get little spotty browning.
You get more of this kind of popcorn, toasty flavor to it, whereas if you have the oil in there, you get more of a fried -- fried texture and flavor.
-So it's what you want, but we really like the spotty brown and that kind of richness that you get from that.
We did nice small pupusas.
These are four inches.
And it makes it really easy to add four to a skillet here.
-So we're gonna go in here.
These are gonna cook for about 2 to 4 minutes a side.
We're looking for spotty brown and nice melty cheese on the inside.
So I'm gonna flip these now.
You can see I got a little bit of cheese coming out of this one.
-[ Chuckles ] -But I actually like that, when a little cheese -- Oh, look at that beautiful browning.
-That cheese gets really flavorful.
So I don't mind if I have a little bit of a drip on the side.
-Those are beautiful.
We're gonna let these go for another 2 to 4 minutes until that second side is nice and brown and the cheese inside is melted.
So it's been about 3 minutes on the second side, and I can smell really nice browning... -Mm-hmm.
-...and I can see really nice browning.
I'm gonna get our other four out to our platter.
-I know what this means.
-What does it mean?
-It means that it's getting close to my plate.
-It's getting very close to your plate.
-I'm eager to taste these.
-Those are beautiful.
-So the final component is our curtido.
I drained it, so we got off some of that liquid so it doesn't sog things out, and then we've got a cup of minced cilantro.
-That's a lot.
-It is a lot.
But it's gonna add so much nice freshness to it.
And we'll just toss this to distribute that cilantro.
-Oh, the smell of the cilantro, the fresh smell of the pupusas.
You can smell that toasted masa.
-So good, right?
-I'm so ready.
-And then a little curtido.
And we've got this lovely quick salsa.
-Mm-hmm, and you can find that recipe on our website.
That is a beautiful plate.
-So many colors and textures.
-It's so dynamic.
You think if we break it open, we'll get the cheese pull?
-Oh, we're gonna get the cheese pull.
I kind of want to just do this.
-Just get in there and cheese pull.
-Oh, it's beautiful.
So that Monterey Jack gives you that beautiful stretch, and you'll see that Cotija's really flavorful.
Alright, a little curtido, a little salsa.
-That toasted flavor of the masa and that cheese is perfection.
-It's so good, and it's super-moist dough because we added -- you know, we were able to add so much more water to it than you normally would see.
-It's a simple combination of flavors, but they are so perfect together.
Salsa's nice, but this curtido is where it's at.
I love how finely you shredded the cabbage.
Also, that little bit of vinegar, a little bit of brightness.
-Yeah, it's just perfect balance.
Dan, these are delicious.
And thank you for breaking down exactly how to make pupusas.
-So if you want to make pupusas, start by making fresh masa, using masa harina and boiling water.
Use a combination of Cotija and Monterey Jack cheese for the filling.
And cook them in a dry nonstick skillet.
From "America's Test Kitchen," a foolproof recipe for pupusas con curtido.
♪♪ -If you like your drinking water a little on the bubbly side, well, then a home soda maker might be just for you.
And Adam's here to tell us which one was the top of our ratings.
-I feel like you were speaking directly to me, Bridget.
I live and die by my home soda maker.
-Little bubbly, huh?
-Love the bubbly.
I feel good about using fewer plastic bottles.
I feel really good about not lugging plastic bottles around.
-And, in fact, you can save money.
If you carbonate your own water, it can be about 50 cents per liter, whereas if you're buying bottles of carbonated water, it can be anywhere between a buck and 3 bucks per liter.
-So it adds up.
We have seven different soda machines here.
The price range was about $72 to $219, is what we paid.
Two of them -- these two right here -- are automatic.
You have to plug them in.
-Most of the machines use a CO2 canister.
It fits really easily in there.
They're not hard to install.
And one of these will carbonate between 30 and 60 liters of water... -Wow.
-...depending on the level of carbonation.
One of them uses packets of citric acid and sodium bicarbonate instead of that cartridge.
-So you get a little chemical reaction.
-These two were the models that used carbonation caps in addition to the carbonation cartridges.
-Again, a couple of extra steps involved there in terms of carbonating the water -- not a deal-breaker, but other ones were easier.
Also, on this model, you'll note that the bottle is a little bit taller than some of the other ones.
-Most of these are plastic bottles around one liter in size, except for that gray one in front of you, which was the only one with a glass bottle.
-This one was a little taller, and some testers found it a little more difficult to navigate it in and out of a fridge.
-So they didn't like it for that reason.
All the other ones worked really well, and they had different benefits, and testers found reasons to recommend four of these models.
-The best overall machine... -Right.
-...the easiest to use, the best choice for most people was this one.
It's the $83 SodaStream Fizzi.
It's small and compact and sturdy.
The quality of the soda water was wonderful.
-If you want to take the guesswork out of your carbonation and have an automatic machine, this is the SodaStream One Touch.
And it was $127.
-If you are trying to steer clear of plastic and want to go for the model with the glass bottle... -Okay.
-...that's the big gray one in front of you.
-That is the SodaStream Aqua Fizz for $154.
-All SodaStream so far.
But there's one more.
If high style is your jam, Bridget, and I happen to know, that chrome bottle on the end, that is the Aarke Carbonator 3.
It worked really well.
It's a manual model.
It was the most expensive one at $219.
And it looks like every penny of it.
It looks great.
-It is gorgeous.
And it seems like there's a winner for everyone.
-But if you want to get the best overall winner, it's the SodaStream Fizzi, and you can buy it for $83.
♪♪ Today we're making yuca, also known as manioc or cassava.
Now, yuca is a starchy root that comes from a woody shrub from South America.
It's enjoyed the world over.
Lots of different cuisines have adopted it and for good reason.
It's got a substantial and compact texture that is unbeatable.
Now, Elle's here, and she's gonna show us one of her favorite ways to make it.
-Bridget, I've had yuca made so many different ways around the world, and it's never done wrong.
Today we're gonna fry it.
-That is my favorite way to eat it.
So to start, all of the goodness of the yuca is under this bark.
So we got a lot of prep that we need to do.
I'm gonna start by taking off about one inch of the ends.
-And yuca fights back.
-Oh, it does.
It puts up a good fight, but it's worth it.
-It sure is.
-And then you're gonna cut it into as many three-inch pieces as it allows.
Now, I'm just gonna use my sharp knife to start to chip away at this bark here.
So just going down the sides like this.
Don't worry about getting it perfect the first go-round.
We're gonna just get the bark off this time and then go around again to get any parts that aren't stark white.
Now that we've cut them into halves, pop out the woody core.
I like to kind of start a little dam and then scoop.
Just takes a little work.
Make myself a little dam there.
It almost wants to come out once you get your spoon under there.
-Yes, it does.
Now that we have the core out, we're gonna cut them into 3/4-inch pieces.
-If you're in a crunch, you can buy yuca frozen, but it's always recommended to use fresh yuca.
Okay, Bridget, we started with 2 pounds of fresh yuca.
We peeled, cut, and cored it, so it might be a little less than that now, but we're ready to boil, which is our first step before frying.
I have 3 quarts of water boiling here in a Dutch oven and I have 1 teaspoon of table salt.
And I'm just gonna add the yuca.
Bringing this to a vigorous simmer and letting it cook for 20 to 25 minutes helps to break down the enzymes, makes it translucent and fluffy.
It's very important for frying.
Alright, Bridget, it's been 25 minutes.
I'm gonna turn this off.
I know that these are ready because I can pierce them with a fork quite easily.
This is the tenderness we were looking for.
-Alright, so we're done with boiling.
-Yeah, we're done with boiling.
Let's just take it to the sink and drain it.
-And then we'll dry it.
-There you go.
They smell great.
Now, boiled yuca are fine to eat right now, though.
-Yeah, we can eat them now.
Or you can freeze them or you can fry them.
Okay, I'm gonna lay these out on this baking sheet so that they can dry.
I'm gonna help them out by patting them dry a little bit.
And it's very important that we get these dry before frying because water and oil equals house fire.
So I'm just gonna pat these nice and dry, and then we can fry them.
Okay, Bridget, so we're ready to fry.
We have 2 quarts of vegetable oil over medium-high heat at 350 degrees.
We're gonna let it fry for 6 to 8 minutes.
-Yeah, you definitely wouldn't want to do this with wet yucas.
-Really good idea that you dried them off.
-And this is vegetable oil or -- -Yes.
-You could use peanut oil, probably, as well.
-You can, yeah.
Alright, we're all set.
6 to 8 minutes.
Bridget, you know what time it is?
-I hope it's yuca fry time.
-It is yuca fry time.
It's been about 6 minutes.
These are done frying.
I'm just gonna use my spider and pull them out of the oil, putting them on a lined sheet tray so that they can drain off some of the oil.
They look beautiful.
-They are gorgeous.
-They're golden brown.
This is what we were looking for.
-And they look a little puffed, which I love that.
That means there's a good surprise on the inside.
-Hope it's cash.
-[ Laughs ] I think it's just gonna be good, fluffy yuca, but, you know, that's good as cash, right?
-I will take that.
So I'm gonna season this with a little bit of salt.
Now, I have had yuca with a host of condiments.
I prefer it with pickled red onions.
-And if you want to know where you can find that recipe, it's on our website.
Okay, so let's give these yuca the design love they deserve.
Little food styling.
-They stay crisp, too.
-This looks lovely.
I'm ready to eat it.
-Let me give you a few of these good yuca fries here.
How's that for you?
-That looks fantastic.
Okay, I'm gonna have a few myself.
-Would you like some pickled onions?
-I would love pickled onions.
-What a treat.
I've never had it with pickled onions.
I've had it with evaporated milk and cheese and spices.
-That sounds insanely delicious.
-I am into the pickled onions.
[ Crunching ] Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
-That crust on the outside, it's pillowy-soft, but, boy, is it crunchy.
-Do you now see why the pickled onion is the ideal condiment?
Adds a little sweetness to that crunch.
-I love the vinegar, too, of the pickled onions.
It's just -- It's great to serve something vinegary or tart with fried foods.
It just really breaks through it.
-And the inside is so creamy and tender.
-I was just gonna say, it's the best part.
That much crispness with a short fry.
It was only like 6 minutes.
Yeah, you could boil them ahead of time, as you said.
-And then fry them right before people come over, eat them all, and then don't tell them that you fried them.
-[ Laughs ] -That's not selfish, is it?
-No, not at all.
-It is self-care.
-It is self-care, yeah.
-Oh, thanks, Elle.
Well, to make fried yuca at home, cut peeled and cored yuca into small wedges, pre-boil the yuca to tenderize them, and then fry them until nice and crisp.
And don't forget the salt and pickled onions.
So from "America's Test Kitchen," craveable and so easy fried yuca.
you can get this recipe and all the recipes from this season, along with product reviews and select episodes, on our website.
-I really thought I was gonna turn around, they'd all be gone.
-Taking a risk with me over here.