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Truly novel products are few and far between when searching in the convenience food aisle. Some of our favorite new entries are extensions of previous products such as bowls or burritos. Pupusas in the freezer case are definitely different.
Pupusas originate in El Salvador and are sort of like flat, round tamales, being corn masa stuffed with various fillings. Unlike tamales, however, they are not wrapped in corn husks, and instead of steaming are usually cooked on a hot rock or griddle. Each of the pupusas from Tres Pupusas is a four inch disk that is about 1/2 inch thick. There are four per pack and are not cheap at almost $2.25 per pupusa.
There are no microwave instructions and that makes sense as the outside of a pupusa should be somewhat crisp. We tried cooking them in both of the methods described on the packages, frying in a pan or baking in the oven, and the oven method is the best choice, hands down. It takes less active oversight and the corn masa crisps up much better.
We started our tasting with the Black Bean & Sweet Corn. The box shows a pupusa stuffed with black bean filling that is studded with corn. A great picture, but what comes out of the oven in no way resembles the photo. There are maybe 5 or 6 corn kernels embedded in the smooth, creamy black beans. They are good, but not great, being a bit on the bland side, and they would definitely be better with a bit of salsa. Even so, the numbers are good. One pupusa is 130 calories, with 4 grams of fiber and only 75 mg of sodium. Good, but not great, flavor, but great numbers.
The Green Chile & Cheese are much better. The corn masa flavor comes through much better than the black bean version. There is more cheese than green chili flavor, however, but they're still very tasty and the numbers are pretty good at 121 calories per pupusa. There is slightly more sodium at 130 mg and less fiber with only 3 grams, but these, too, are good.
The best of the three we tasted was the Pinto Bean & Cheese. The corn flavor of the masa comes through even better than the other two, and the creamy pinto beans mixes well with the mozzarella cheese. Of the three, this one stands on its own the best and is quite good. It is also the highest in calories at 150 per pupusa. There is only 120 mg of sodium, however, but 4 grams of fiber.
This company is fantastic. Their food is new in the market and well executed, and a couple of pupusas with a side salad would make a great lunch. A good start and although pupusas are all they currently offer (there are four other varieties: Carnitas & Cheese; Chicken & Cheese; Mushroom, Leek & Cheese; and Spinach & Cheese), we are looking forward to tasting any other products they may come up with.
Reviewed: March 14, 2014