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Mexican Sopes

shantihhh's picture
Sopes pronounced "SOH-peh" are an amazing snack or light meal classified as antojitos ("little whims") in Spanish. Each geographical region has their own version of this south of the border dish originating in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. Sopes are hand-made little shallow "bowls" of a corn-based dough that are cooked on a griddle and filled with spicy and savory toppings. The fillings can consist of salsa, vegetables, meat, or chicken, and garnishes can include cheese, cilantro, diced onion and or sour cream. Sopes are a great make your own for a party or can be made ahead and plated. Like many of the other antojitos (quesadillas, taquitos, tostadas or gorditas), sopes are best eaten almost immediately after they are removed from the griddle. The exiting contrast of hot and cold, crunchy and smooth, and salty and spicy are a delight for the palate. I have had pickled cabbage, zucchini, and radishes served on sopes. I have had refired beans black or pinto on sopes as well. All are wonderful! Sopes are wonderful whether vegetarian or heaped with Carnitas or chicken!
Ingredients
  Masa harina 1 1⁄2 Cup (24 tbs)
  Warm water 1 Cup (16 tbs)
  Oil 1 Tablespoon
  Grated cheese 1⁄3 Cup (5.33 tbs), crumbled
  Black and pinto beans 1 1⁄2 Cup (24 tbs)
  Chorizo 1 1⁄2 Cup (24 tbs)
  Jitomate 1⁄2 Cup (8 tbs)
  Shredded cabbage 1 Cup (16 tbs)
  Onion 1⁄2 Cup (8 tbs), chopped
  Salsa 1 Cup (16 tbs)
  Guacamole 1 Cup (16 tbs)
  Cilantro leaves 1 Teaspoon, garnish
Directions

Place the masa harina in a bowl. Gradually add the water, mixing it in with your fingers, until the flour and water have formed a thick (but not soggy) paste.

Heat a skillet or flat griddle to medium-high.

With damp hands, scoop up a small amount of the masa mixture and roll it between your palms into a ball.

Carefully flatten the ball into a disk about 1/4 to 1/2 inches thick; the edges will crack, but just press them back together with your fingertips. (Feel free to use a tortilla press instead if you like, but don’t press the paste too thin.)

Find a glass, or an object with a smaller diameter than the dough patties. The idea is to press the object into the sopes dough to flatten the center more while creating a raised edge. Do this through the parchment paper to prevent sticking.

Place the flattened tortilla on the griddle. Repeat until the griddle is full.

When the undersides of the tortillas start to darken, flip them and place slices, gratings, or crumblings of the cheese on top. When the cheese has melted (you may need to put a lid over the skillet or griddle to encourage melting), remove the tortillas to serving plates.

Dollop each cheese-covered tortilla with a spoonful of warm beans, followed by salsa, guacamole, and cilantro.

Serve hot.

Notes:
Turn this dish into a vegan meal by skipping the cheese.

Refried Beans: Frijoles Refritos:
About 1/3 cup lard, melted
1 heated tablespoon finely chopped white onion
3 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans in their broth

Heat the lard in a heavy 10-inch skillet, add the onion and fry over medium heat without browning, until translucent, about 30 seconds. Gradually add the beans and their broth and continue cooking over fairly high heat, mashing them down to a paste texture, about 10 minutes.
Yield: 3 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Ease of preparation: easy

Chorizo and Potato Filling: Chorizo y Papa:
Approximately 1 tablespoon lard or vegetable oil
1 Mexican chorizo, about 3 ounces
6 ounces waxy new potatoes, diced and cooked al dente, about 1 rounded cup
1 chipotle in adobo, chopped
Sea salt

Melt the lard in a small skillet. Skin and crumble the chorizo, add to the pan, and cook over low heat until the fat has been rendered out. Add the potatoes and chile, if using, and continue cooking over medium heat, scraping the bottom of the skillet from time to time to avoid sticking, until well seasoned, about 8 minutes. Season with salt. Set aside to cool a little before using.
Yield: 1 cup

Salsa de Jitomate:
2 garlic cloves
4 serrano chiles, asado, and roughly chopped, technique follows
Sea salt
1 pound tomatoes, asado, technique follows
About 1/3 cup finely chopped white onion
About 1/3 roughly chopped cilantro leaves

Crush or blend the garlic, chiles and salt to a paste. Gradually add the tomatoes (unpeeled), grinding well after each addition. The sauce should be texture and the skin will never all completely disappear.
Sprinkle the top with the onion and cilantro and serve.

Yield: 2 cups

Chiles Asado:
Place the whole chilies on an ungreased griddle over medium heat and turn them from time to time until the flesh is fairly soft; there will be brownish patches on the skin and the color will have faded somewhat. Then, if they are to be ground with other ingredients, chop roughly before blending. Note well: they are to be neither peeled nor seeded.

Tomatoes Asados:
The whole tomatoes are cooked on a ungreased comal or griddle until they are slightly charred and mushy to guarantee a specially delicious table or cooked sauce. About half the cooks I know then skin the tomatoes, while others – including me – blend them unskinned. While the appearance of the sauce may not be as attractive, the flavor and texture are incomparable. This method of cooking tomatoes is particularly recommended for freezing and storing for the months when tomatoes are not at their best (not a problem in Mexico).

You may want to broil them in a more practical way. Choose a shallow pan in which the tomatoes will just fit in 1 layer – not too large or the juice that exuded will dry up. (I used to line the pan with foil, but no longer. It is high time that we gradually ease foil out of the kitchen or use it very, very sparingly. The mining of bauxite for the production of aluminum has destroyed far too many tropical forests on this planet.) Place the pan about 2 inches below a heated broiler and broil until the top halves of the tomatoes are soft and the skin is blistered and slightly browned. Turn the tomatoes over and repeat on the other side. The exuded juice will be sweet and syrupy so save it to blend with the tomatoes.

Recipe Summary

Difficulty Level: 
Easy
Cuisine: 
Mexican
Course: 
Snack
Taste: 
Savory
Feel: 
Crunchy
Method: 
Grilling
Dish: 
Salad
Ingredient: 
Vegetable
Interest: 
Kids, Party, Quick
Preparation Time: 
20 Minutes
Cook Time: 
10 Minutes
Ready In: 
30 Minutes
Servings: 
6
Story
The first step is to prepare the base, which is made from field corn that has been treated with lime, cooked, and then ground into a paste called masa. Freshly-made masa (masa preparado) is the most flavorful, but can be hard to find. If you have a Mexican market check with them, even some regular markets here in California carry the masa preparado. Masa comes in two varieties: para tortillas (for tortillas) and para tamales (for tamales). The tortilla variety is much smoother and best for making sopes. Some Mexican market do sell the sopes already made. They look a lot like English muffins. I prefer to make my own as they have such a wonderful fresh flavour. If you can't find fresh masa, the dried masa/corn meal (masa harina) is a good replacement. It is sold in bags at a wide variety of stores, including many chain supermarkets.

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8 Comments

shantihhh's picture
I forgot to mention that sopes are a bit like "Boat Chaat", which is a sort of a small wheat-flour dough bowl that is filled with spiced Indian dal and cooked on a griddle. I think there is a corn flour snack that is popular in Punjab - a snack called katori chaat like this. I think the katori is a small bowl that is used on a serving tray. Someone here will know! Help-I just sort of remember these. Shanti/Mary-Anne
moodyfoody's picture
This is my favorite recipe of all time!!! thanks shanti for sharing this great Sopes Recipe.... (¨`·.·´¨) Alwayz`·.¸(¨`·.·´¨) Keep(¨`·.·´¨)¸.·´ Smiling!`·.¸.·´moodyfoody
shantihhh's picture
There are many other variations from Central America. Perhaps I should share more. Sopes, papusas, gordito..................oh my-such- exciting heavenly flavours. Shanti/Mary-Anne
Snigdha's picture
This is awesome. Thanks for the detailed description. Am sure its a great treat!
MasalaMonsoon's picture
I luv this looking tastful
Medena's picture
Looks very apetizing! mhmmm...
shantihhh's picture
Thanks Medena! Kids love making these too! Shredded meats, and the fresh veggies they like. Sometimes I make them another ethnic taste in place of Mexican - Thai or Serbian! Shanti/Mary-Anne
Anonymous's picture
The correct name is "carnitas" not caranitas, and "gorditas", not "gorditos"