El Salvador is still a relatively untravelled country, but its popularity is increasing due to its geographical closeness to Mexico as well as other Central American tourist hot spots.
With Salvadorans making up the fastest growing population in the US, many migrants have opened up restaurants, so some of you may have already sampled some of their cuisine.
Honestly, though, due to the country’s strong sense of culture and heritage, they are truly passionate about their food and the only way to get the best and most authentic food is to visit El Salvador itself.
You should make a trip to this untouched paradise for the ultimate culinary experience with some of their best dishes capturing the hearts and wowing the palates of anyone who visits!
Without further ado, here are five foods you simply must try in El Salvador.
Plátanos con crema y Frijoles
If there’s one thing you need to get your hands on in El Salvador it’s these, I suggest doing so as quickly as possible as you’ll want to try as many different versions as you can, trust me!
Plantains appear a lot in Salvadoran dishes, these are sweet and served with a side of beans and sour cream.
But these beans are not your ordinary beans; they’re finely ground into a sauce like consistency and served with the nation’s version of sour cream. Much different to what you’re used to!
This is usually a breakfast dish, and if you were to add eggs to your plátanos con crema y Frijoles and a thick, fluffy tortilla you would be ordering what is known as “plato típico”, which translates to a typical dish.
Pupusas are the backbone of Salvadoran cuisine, but this food is anything but basic. They’re round, flat and filled with tasty fillings, like beans, cheese, chicharron – a finely ground pork, loroco which is a locally sourced edible flower or “revueltas”, meaning a mixture of all the above.
Revueltas are most popular, and are often paired with curtido, a vinegar-based cabbage salsa and topped with a slightly spicy tomato salsa – anyone else drooling yet?
Empanadas de leche
Empanadas are a good idea at any time of day if you ask me, but are typically eaten as a snack with coffee or after a meal for dessert.
Made from ground plantain, which is shaped into small balls, stuffed with a vanilla custard and then fried until they brown and finished with a sprinkle of sugar on top. Delicious!
Tamal de Pollo
Salvadoran tamales are wrapped in banana leaves like many other types of tamales are in the Americas, this difference may deter some that are used to Mexican tamales, but I assure you they’re well worth trying!
The wrapping and cooking style of these tamales gives them a fresher taste and a slightly juicier consistency. Unlike a lot of dry-style tamales, traditional Salvadoran recipes call for tamales to be made from potatoes, olives and a tomato sauce that should marinate the chicken to lock in the flavor.
While you’ll want to dig into your tamal right away, when you unwrap it from the banana leaf, resist the urge and let it sit for a couple of minutes. This will help the dough to harden a little, giving you the pleasure of a little crispness to the edges and a nicer texture inside and out.
Sopa de Res
This soup is life. Yes, I’m speaking from experience here.
All of the countries in the Americas have their own versions of this soup, but this particular version, in my opinion, is one of the best. No matter what life throws at you, this soup will make you feel better!
The soup boasts large chunks of beef which are simmered and cooked with large pieces of corn, carrot, cabbage, zucchini and güisquil, which is Nahuat’l for chayote, a great kind of squash used throughout Central America.
Rice often accompanies Sopa de Res – adding it to the broth, gives it a thicker consistency and makes for a more substantial meal.
So, if you ever find yourself in El Salvador you simply have to try out at least a few of the foods mentioned in this list! It’ll be worth it, believe me!