Wednesday, 30 September 2015


Curtido is deceptively simple salad from El Salvador, and when served with pupusas it forms part of the national dish of that country. In its homeland, it is generally made with pineapple vinegar, but apple cider vinegar makes a very good substitute.

Pupusas, in case you are unfamiliar with them, are like a thick tortilla (although the cornmeal used is a little different) stuffed with meat, beans, or cheese. Unfortunately, I can't get the right cornmeal for them here. It's okay though; curtido is easy and very convenient, because unlike most salads it will keep in the fridge for quite a while and provide a quick vegetable accompaniment to sandwiches and other meals. We mostly eat it with sandwiches but it goes anywhere cole-slaw would, and with a bit more panache.

I put 2 Jalapeños in mine, and that was fine for the first 2 days. It got stronger as it sat though, and by the end of the week this was pretty hot stuff. The longer you think it is going to take you to eat the curtido, the less Jalapeño you should put in. Unless you like pretty hot stuff. I do, but there is a limit and by the end of the week we had passed it.

As I was looking at recipes for curtido, I noticed a number of people are treating it as sauerkraut and giving it a full ferment. I'm going to try that, and I will report back once I have some results.

12 to 18 servings
40 minutes prep time,  plus 2 days sitting

6 cups finely shredded cabbage
3 cups grated carrots (2 medium)
1 1/2 cups sliced onion (1 medium)
1 or 2 Jalapeño peppers
1 tablespoon dried rubbed oregano
1 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups water

Wash, trim, and finely shred the cabbage. Peel and grate the carrots. Peel and cut the onion in half, then cut it into thin slices, so you have half rings. Remove the stem and seeds of the Jalapeño, and mince it finely.

Put the vegetables into a large bowl as you work, and when they are all cut, add the oregano and salt. With clean hands, massage the oregano and salt into the vegetables, until they are well mixed and look a little wilted.

Pack them into a very clean litre canning jar - either sterilize it as  you would for canning, or have it come right out of the dishwasher - using some sort of blunt instrument. If you have a tamper for making sauerkraut, excellent. I used the pestle from my mortar and pestle. At any rate, pack it in there. You will likely have more than will fit into a litre jar, in which case, put the excess into another, smaller, jar in the same way.

Mix the vinegar and water, and pour it into the jars over the vegetables. Close them up with clean (but re-used is fine) lids and rims. Put them in a dark, room-temperature spot. I put mine under the sink. They should be on a bit of newspaper, in case they leak. Leave them to ferment for 2 days.

At that point, the curtido will be ready to serve. Keep it in the fridge at this point. It should keep for up to 2 weeks without any problem, although mine was certainly eaten before then.

Last year was pretty sparse for posts too, but around this time I made Peppers Stuffed with Lamb & Feta.

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