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INGREDIENTS FOR 10 SOPES:
There is an endless list of dishes in Mexico made using corn dough. Their shapes and cooking methods are very diverse, and also the names given to them vary frequently in every region of the country. But Sopes are a popular and delicious street snack that you find almost everywhere in Mexico, and each cook has a favorite topping for them, although a little of bit refried beans is almost always spread first, then some shredded lettuce that will be crowned with some shredded beef, pork, chicken, or even ground beef. This type of meal is part of what we call antojitos (little cravings) that most of the time include corn dough or corn tortillas.
Sopes are a type of small tortillas, made a little bit thicker, with a border around the edges. This step is done right after cooking the sopes, when they are still soft and the texture allows to pinch them to form a border that serves as a barrier to contain all the toppings. In my hometown they are small, round shaped and thick, but there are other places where you will find them large and in a oval shape. Still the popular toppings: shredded beef, pork or chicken will include the traditional smear of fried beans, lettuce or cabbage, tomato, crumbled cheese and the salsa of your choice. Other additions are Mexican cream, pickled carrots, diced avocado, chopped onion, radishes slices, plus many others that change from town to town. But it doesn’t matter how many toppings you add, they are delicious at every bite!
There are many dishes similar to sopes under the antojitos category like: pellizcadas, migadas, memelas, huaraches, chalupas and many other variations made using fresh corn dough. The sopes are so popular that you can even find them already made at supermarkets in Mexico, you only need to take them home and warm them up. So convenient right? The cooks have the option to warm them up in a comal, or slightly fry them in oil or lard. However, if you visit Mexico, almost every town you go, you can find small restaurants called cenadurias, fondas or antojerias that sell this scrumptious meal. They could be for breakfast, lunch or dinner… any time is a good time to enjoy some sopes!
INGREDIENTS FOR 10 SOPES:
FOR THE DOUGH
- 1-1/2 cup of masa harina
- 1-1/4 cup of warm water
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil or lard
- 1 cup refried beans
- 2 cups lettuce, finely shredded
- 1-1/2 cup cooked beef or chicken, shredded
- 1/2 cup Mexican cheese (queso fresco) crumbled
- 1/4 cup white onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup Mexican cream
- Spicy salsa of you choice
- 1/3 cup radishes, thinly sliced
- 1 avocado, sliced or diced
- 1/2 cup of tomato, diced or sliced
- Pickled jalapeños and carrots.
If you can’t find Mexican queso fresco or Mexican cream, you can do the following: Substitute the Mexican cheese with feta cheese and even parmesan cheese. For the cream, mix equal amounts of sour cream and heavy cream with a pinch of salt. (I know many people living outside Mexico — like me — who struggle to find Mexican products).
Making Sopes require certain amount of time and preparation, that’s why is better to make them when you have some leftovers in your fridge, like refried beans and beef or chicken from a stew; that way you will have some of the ingredients ready.
You will need a plastic bag like the ones used to store food in the freezer (to form the sopes), a griddle-comal, a tortilla press or a glass pie dish in case you don’t have a tortilla press (please look picture below).
1. Mix Masa harina and warm water in a medium size bowl, knead the dough until you have a uniform texture. If the dough feels dry, add more water, little by little, spoon by spoon, until the dough is soft and manageable, like play dough. It doesn’t have to be sticky. Sometimes, if we live in a place with lots of humidity in the environment our dough won’t need to much water. But if that is not your case, make sure the dough has enough moisture to avoid any cracking on the sope surfaces. Now, cover the dough with a wet kitchen towel, this will help to keep the dough moist. Always keep a small bowl of water next to your working area to keep your hands and dough moisten.
3. Heat the griddle to medium high heat.
4. To form the sopes, cut the plastic bag into 2 squares of about 6-IN each. Place one piece of plastic on the Tortilla press, then put down one of the small balls of dough and cover with the other piece of plastic, close the tortillera and press down gently with the tortilla press handle until you form a medium size thick tortilla. of about 4-1/2 inches.
5. Lift the handle and remove the top plastic. Pick up the tortilla, holding with the plastic at the bottom, gently flip the tortilla to unto the palm of your hand. A large part of the tortilla will cover your hand.
If you don’t have a Tortilla Press, use a glass pie dish to press down the dough; I use it all the time and it works wonderfully.
6. Place the tortilla on the already hot griddle-comal, this is a fast but gentle move. Turn the tortilla after a minute, don’t the it cook longer or the dough will dry and crack. Turn again after a minute, and the last cooking will take about 20-30 seconds. Remove from the griddle with the help of a spatula. Cover the tortillas with a dry kitchen towel and allow to cool for about 30-45 seconds, and start forming the border pinching the edges with your fingers. Now, the tortillas had become sopes, cover again with the kitchen towel and keep cooking the rest of the sopes.
1. Heat the oil or lard in a skillet or griddle at medium heat. Place the sopes on the skillet and lightly fry them on both sides (about 30 seconds each side will be enough time to fry them and give them a little golden color). Remove from the heat and place on a plate that has already being covered with paper towels to absorb any excess fat.
2. Now is time to spread the refried beans, top with shredded lettuce, beef, chicken, or any other topping of your choice. Serve with salsa.