I had sopes for the first time this year. You know what happens when I try a new food. I want to make it. So this is my take on sopes, the traditional Mexican dish with meat or vegetarian toppings on a fried masa base.
It reminds me of a toastada, but with much thicker tortilla. The wikipedia article about sopes is actually informative, although I’m always skeptical of the historical accuracy. You can and should also read The Kitchn’s article on sopes, from which I based much of my recipe.
For the sopes:
- 2 cups masa harina (not the same as corn meal or corn flour)
- 1 1/2 cups warm-to-hot water
- Vegetable, grapeseed, or other oil for frying
Toppings (choose some, not all):
- Meat, such as carnitas, barbacoa, cochinita pibil, carne asada, chicken, fish, etc.
- Refried or black beans
- Diced, cooked potato
- Diced tomatoes
- Diced avocado
- Chopped cilantro
- Salsa (red, green, etc.)
- Diced onions
- Pickled red onions
- Cheeses, such as queso fresco, cotija, panela, casero, etc.
- Mexican cream
- Chili powder
For the sopes, mix the masa harina, water, and a few pinches of salt together in a mixing bowl. Knead the dough until it forms a thick ball. If it’s too dry, add water, a little at a time. When you’ve kneaded the dough to a uniform consistency, break off golf ball-sized chunks and roll into balls. You should have 16-18 of these dough balls.
On the stove, preheat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Don’t add oil to the skillet, yet. You’re going to pan-toast the sopes, but not yet. Flatten each ball of dough to about 1/4-inch thick. It’ll spread out to about the size of a small drink coaster. If you’re really fancy, you can pinch the edges to create a small lip to help the toppings stay on the sope as you eat it. (I didn’t do this, as you can see in the picture.)
Toast the sopes, in batches, in the preheated pan. No oil. Toast them for 2-3 minutes each side, until brown spots appear. When you’ve toasted each side, remove them from the pan, and do the next batch.
Now it’s time to fry them. Add a little more than 1/4-inch of oil to the pan, and let it preheat for a few minutes. In batches (again), fry the sopes until golden, about 3-4 minutes, flipping halfway. When the sopes have reached a crispy and golden state, remove them from the oil onto a paper towel to remove excess oil.
From hereon, it’s easy. Top with whatever you want. I used homemade barbacoa, salsa, diced avocado, cilantro, homemade pickled red onions, and cotija cheese. You can use whatever you have on hand. Serves 4-5.