Cooking With Me: How I Make Sopes
How to Make Sopes
Sopes are corn-based tartlets topped with various fillings, including beans, vegetables, meats, and cheeses. The dough is traditionally fried in oil, but you could easily bake the sopes in the oven for a somewhat healthier cooking option.
Makes 12 servings
3 cups (750 ml) masa harina
1 Tbsp (15 ml) salt
2 cups (500 ml) warm water
1 qt (1 L) vegetable oil
1 cup (250 ml) refried beans
2 cups (500 ml) shredded lettuce
2 cups (500 ml) cooked, shredded meat (chicken, beef, or pork)
1 medium onion, diced
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup (125 ml) salsa
1/2 cup (125 ml) crumbled queso fresco, feta cheese, or shredded cheese blend
1/2 cup (125 ml) Mexican crema or sour cream
Preparing the Dough
Combine the masa harina and salt.Place the masa harina and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk together until evenly combined.
- Masa harina is finely ground corn flour typically used for corn tortillas. If you can't find masa harina, consider grinding 8 to 12 stale corn tortillas in a food processor until they form a fine powder.
- If you have a corn allergy, you could use all-purpose wheat flour instead of the masa harina. The taste won't be quite as authentic, but the dough should still hold together correctly.
Add the water.Add water by the 1/2 cup (125 ml), mixing well after each addition. Continue adding water until a smooth, cohesive dough forms.
- Mixing the dough with your hands will be easiest, but if desired, you could opt to use a wooden spoon or a low-speed stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment.
- Mixing the dough should take roughly 3 to 5 minutes. After the dough holds its form, however, you don't need to knead it any further.
Separate the dough into 12 pieces.Pinch the dough into 12 evenly sized pieces. Roll each piece between your hands to form balls.
- Each ball of dough should be between 1-1/2 and 2 inches (3.75 and 5 cm) in diameter.
- Line up the balls of dough on a lightly floured counter or sheet of parchment paper.
Flatten each ball.Using your fingers, carefully flatten each ball of dough until it forms a patty approximately 1/4 to 1/2 inch (0.6 to 1.25 cm) thick and 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter.
- You could use a tortilla press to flatten the balls of dough if one is available. Place the dough in between two sheets of plastic bag material, then set the covered dough over the center of the tortilla press. Close the press gently, flattening the dough to the indicated dimensions.
- Cover the finished dough patties with a clean, slightly damp kitchen towel to prevent the dough from drying out as you work.
Shaping the Sopes
Heat a cast iron skillet.Place a large cast iron skillet on the stove over medium high heat. Give the pan 1 or 2 minutes to heat up.
- If you don't have a cast iron skillet, any nonstick frying pan should work adequately well.
- Ideally, you should not add any oil to this pan before or after it heats up. If you need to add some type of nonstick coating, apply a light layer of nonstick cooking spray to the surface before heating the pan.
Lightly cook the dough patties.Place three dough patties on the hot skillet. Cook the dough for 1 minute, flip, then continue cooking for another minute.
- Arrange the dough patties on the skillet with at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) of space between them.
- You should cook the dough patties until they brown and blister on both sides. This should be a quick process as long as the pan is adequately hot.
Cool slightly.Remove the sopes from the pan and allow them to cool for 30 to 60 seconds, or until they are cool enough to handle safely.
- Do not wait for the sopes to cool completely. If they cool too much, you won't be able to shape them.
Pinch the edges.Use your fingers to pinch around the outer edge of each sope, forming a 1/4 to 1/2 inch (0.6 to 1.25 cm) rim around the entire circumference.
- You should form this raised edge on the side of the sope cooked first to help protect your fingers from the hot dough.
- While not strictly necessary, you could also pinch a smaller ring around the center of each patty. Doing so may help prevent the sope from falling apart after you fill it.
Repeat with the remaining dough.After shaping your first three sopes, continue shaping the remaining nine dough patties in the same manner.
- Work with only three patties at once. If you try to do too many, the patties may burn or cool too quickly.
- Set aside the shaped sopes while working on the flat patties. Try to keep them warm.
Frying the Sopes (Traditional Cooking Method)
Heat the oil.Pour the oil into a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or deep fryer. Bring it to a temperature of 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius).
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit (90 degrees Celsius).
- Line a baking sheet with nonstick aluminum foil or parchment paper, and line a large plate with clean paper towels.
Fry the sopes.Place two or three shaped sopes in the hot oil. Fry them for 1 or 2 minutes, or until they turn golden brown on both sides and are fully cooked through.
- Use tongs to carefully turn the sopes halfway through the cooking time, ensuring that both sides brown evenly.
- Only work with a few sopes at a time. If you try to fry too many, the temperature of the oil may drop, forcing the sopes to cook longer and become soggy.
Drain the excess oil.Remove the hot sopes from the oil using tongs. Place them on the paper towel lined plate.
- Arrange the sopes with the indentation facing down so that the oil does not gather inside the shell.
- Wait a minute or so, giving the sopes adequate time to drain, before moving onto the next step.
Keep the sopes warm.Place the sopes on the lined baking sheet and place the baking sheet in the oven. Keep the sopes in the oven while you work on the remaining batches.
- Storing the finished sopes in the oven should keep them warm while you finish cooking the rest.
- After you've finished cooking the remaining sopes, you can remove the entire batch from the oven. Cover the sopes with a clean, dry towel to keep them warm as you prepare the filling.
Baking the Sopes (Alternative Cooking Method)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius).Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick aluminum foil.
Bake the sopes for 10 minutes.Place the shaped sopes on the lined baking sheet. Cook them in your preheated oven for approximately 10 minutes, or until they feel firm to the touch.
- Keep at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) of space in between each sope when you arrange them on the baking sheet.
- Unlike fried sopes, baked sopes won't gain much color after being cooked through. As long as the sopes are firm, however, they should be ready to use and enjoy.
Keep warm.Once the sopes have finished cooking, remove them from the oven and set them aside in a warm area while you prepare the filling.
- It's a good idea to cover the sopes with a clean, dry kitchen towel to help them hold in more heat.
Filling the Sopes
Spread the refried beans.Spoon 1 to 2 tsp (5 to 10 ml) of refried beans into each sope, then use the back of the spoon to smooth the beans into an even layer.
- While sope toppings typically vary by personal preference, including an initial layer of refried beans is common among many traditional recipes.
Layer the lettuce.Take a handful of romaine, iceberg, or green leaf lettuce and shred the leaves into thin strips. Spread a layer of the shredded lettuce over the refried beans.
- Lettuce is another traditional component of sope toppings, but it can also be skipped if you have an aversion to it or don't have any presently available.
Add the meat, if desired.Nearly any shredded or cubed meat would work. Spoon a layer of the meat into the center of each sope, directly on top of the bed of lettuce.
Top with your favorite garnishes.After layering on the meat, you can add your favorite chopped vegetables, cheeses, and creams.
- Some popular vegetable options include diced onion, diced avocado, diced bell pepper, diced chile pepper, and diced tomato. Similarly, you could add your favorite commercial salsa or homemade pico de gallo.
- Crumbled queso fresco is the most conventional choice of cheese, but if you can't find it, mild feta cheese is a good substitute. If you don't like the taste of these cheeses, shredded cheddar or a shredded Mexican-style cheese blend are other options worth considering.
- Similarly, Mexican crema is a type of heavy cream used as a garnish for many Mexican dishes, but if you don't have any, you could use sour cream instead.
Enjoy.Once you've finished filling and garnishing the sopes, they're ready to eat. They don't store well, so you should enjoy them while they're warm and fresh.
Video: Recipe: How to make "Sopes"
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