How to Make Mexican Sopes

From the Authentic Mexican Cuisine series

In Mexico we traditionally eat many corn based dishes that have become a true staple food. I think the most well known item of the Mexican Cuisine is the “Tortilla” which is to Mexicans as bread is to French, or pasta is to Italians. The tortilla is nothing more than the corn kernels (white Mexican corn) mixed with lime and a bit of water & salt. This mixture needs to soak for a while and then it can be grinded into a flexible cornmeal that can be shaped into different forms and shapes such as the famous flat, round Tortilla. Tortillas can be as varied and different as bread can be, but they are always best when freshly eaten; straight from the mill they are just heavenly. The advantage with tortilla and other cornmeal based products -as opposed to wheat- is that it takes just a couple of minutes to cook. One variation of the basic traditional tortilla is the Sope, an item of which I talk about in this Mexican Recipe.


Mexican Sopes

A Sope is a traditional food staple that can be eaten at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Every Mexican restaurant in Mexico has it as part of their menu, no matter how sophisticated it might be. They are also sold in food stalls throughout the streets of the country, from north to south. The Sope consists of a round cornmeal base (similar to a soft tortilla but a little bit thicker), covered with black beans and topped with chopped onion, grated fresh cheese, lettuce, a drizzle of cream and hot sauce. What I just described is the classic basic Sope, but there are many variations and additional ingredients to be added (for example some shredded chicken or chorizo).

The Sope is a very versatile food because it can be made in which ever size you want it; the cornmeal base can be custom made to a big diameter or a small one according to your needs. The little ones can be perfect as nibbles, snacks or party food, and the bigger the diameter gets, the more a formal dish you’ll get. Normally a meal can consist of 2 Sopes of about 10 cm in diameter. Another option is to have one as a starter.


Epazote: The Secret Ingredient

Epazote, a herb used in many Mexican dishes
Epazote, a herb used in many Mexican dishes | Source

Ingredients

  • 1 Package Yellow or Blue Cornmeal (Maseca or any other brand of your choice). In this case, I used blue cornmeal, but if you are going to go for the blue one, I would advise you to watch out for which one you buy because sometimes they just add artificial coloring to the regular yellow cornmeal, better go for the organic one.
  • 1 green onion finely chopped
  • 9 ounces (250g) Fresh White Cheese, grated (Mexican Panela Cheese, Covadonga is my recommended brand)
  • Your choice of lettuce (Romaine, Iceberg or any other lettuce will do)
  • 7 ounces (200g) Non Acidified Milk Cream (Aguascalientes is my recommended brand)
  • Your Choice of Hot Chili Pepper Sauce, Red or Green. In this case I used a red hot sauce with “chile de árbol” or tree chili pepper.
  • Black Bean Spread


If you can't find fresh epazote use the dried one

For the Black Bean Spread

  • 8.8 ounces (250g) black beans
  • ¼ green onion
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1 stalk fresh epazote
  • 3 liters water
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Cook everything in a high pressure pan for about 1½ hours. Almost all the water will be consumed and the little that is left can be blended with the cooked beans to get a thinner spread. Use a food processor for this purpose. If you want the spread thicker, strain the beans before blending.

You can also buy the black bean spread canned if you want to skip this step (by the ones that are conservative free).

Procedure: Sopes Recipe

Make the cornmeal dough according to the package directions and to the amount of Sopes you are planning to make. The making of the cornmeal base is going to be a bit of a trial and error thing the first time, but once you’ve done 2 or 3 you’ll know the amount of dough needed for every Sope.

Grab a plastic bag from the market and use it as a surface to flatten the dough into a circular base. Take some corn dough with your hands and form a ball.

Place the ball in the plastic surface and start hitting it with the lower part of your palm. The ball will start to flatten until it transforms into a flat circle of about 2 mm thick. The bigger the amount of dough you grab to make the ball, the bigger the diameter of the Sope. For a more graphic explanation, see the attached video.


Visual explanation of how to make a Sope

Step by Step Instructions to Make a Perfect Sope

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Source
  • Once you have the right size of cornmeal base, you can proceed to cook it using a flat, thin iron dish. Warm up the dish and once it is very hot, place the Sope base on top of it and lower the flame; flip it over and over every once in a while until it becomes harder and a bit brown. You’ll see the changes happening, don’t worry. It will only take a few minutes until the base is cooked, don’t let it get burned.
  • Once the base is cooked, use your fingers to make an edge around the perimeter.
  • Cover the corn base with the black bean spread.
  • Sprinkle with chopped onion and grated fresh white cheese.
  • Top it up with chopped lettuce.
  • Drizzle with milk cream and hot sauce.
  • Enjoy!

If you want to make several Sopes and keep them warm, place them in a hot oven before you top them with lettuce. They taste always better when eaten right away.


Simple Colorful Mexican Food

Prepare a sensational Habanero Salsa for your Mexican Sopes!
Prepare a sensational Habanero Salsa for your Mexican Sopes! | Source

More by this Author


Comments on "How to Make Sopes" 13 comments

Jorge 5 years ago

Muchas gracias Claudia i felt so hungry with your article that i am heading to look for a stand and have a couple. Im at los cabos ill tell you what i found. Im jorge from cd d mex school buena vibra


livelonger profile image

livelonger 5 years ago from San Francisco

I LOVE Mexican food. We were recently in Mexico City and had a wonderful time there, and, of course, ate great food. We've been making tortillas since we got back (very easy to do) and making sopes shouldn't be difficult if we follow your very clear instructions. Great Hub!


Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 5 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

Your recipe looks and sounds delicious. I can totally relate to your comments about authentic Mexican food. As a Scot, it always infuriates and amazes me that people honestly and genuinely think that we eat haggis!! :)

One of the first things I do when I visit another country is look to sample the local cuisine (and, to be honest - the beer!) I really hate it when I go to a country where they "assume" that I will want to eat traditional American/British/Canadian, etc, food (whatever that may actually constitute.) No, I don't - I want to sample local culture, local cuisine, local heritage and customs. Otherwise, I would have saved the travel money and stayed at home.

The most guilty country I have found in this respect is Spain. I know it is the Mecca of British and German tourists in particular but I wish it would retain its own cultural identity more, rather than cater to the drunken hordes who descend upon it each summer. My last visit to Spain was to a fairly large city and believe it or not, it did not have one, solitary, authentic Spanish restaurant. My hotel served only British style breakfasts, lunches and dinners and I had to venture in to the rural villages to experience some beautiful Spanish dishes such as real paella and wonderful delicacies such as goat stew.

I'm sorry to go on and on in your comments but your passion for your food and your sense of cultural identity is something I find inspiring and appreciate very much.

Look forward to reading more from you soon.


Irka Winniczuk 5 years ago

Wauw!

Your clear indications and beautiful pictures are mouthwatering!!!


Claudia Tello profile image

Claudia Tello 5 years ago from Mexico Author

Hi Jorge!!!! Thanks for reading. I'm glad I was descriptive enough to trigger your appetite!

So how was the Sope hunt? Enjoy los Cabos!

Besos!


Claudia Tello profile image

Claudia Tello 5 years ago from Mexico Author

Thanks livelonger. I'm glad you enjoyed your time in Mexico and liked the food. You are right, making tortillas or sopes is pretty much the same. Let me know how your Sopes were!

Hi Gordon! I hear what you are saying and completely agree with all your points. It also infuriates me to see Mexican food torn to pieces and turned into uninteresting dishes that have nothing to do with the original stuff. On the other hand, I like you, love to explore authentic traditional food when I travel and taste things I've never tried before, real local food, it is part of the whole idea of going to a foreign country.

I am glad to see you are one of my team!


Claudia Tello profile image

Claudia Tello 5 years ago from Mexico Author

Thanks for all your nice comments Irka!


livelonger profile image

livelonger 5 years ago from San Francisco

Claudia - we actually made sopes according your recipe this morning (and quesadillas with huitlacoche) and they were fantastic! Everyone loved them!


Claudia Tello profile image

Claudia Tello 5 years ago from Mexico Author

Livelonger Wow! That’s awesome! I am glad the Sopes recipe was useful…… and Quesadillas with Huitlacoche!?! sounds delicious, well done!


Brett.Tesol profile image

Brett.Tesol 4 years ago from Somewhere in Asia

Awesome, I love Mexican food! and hope to on day teach English there for a year. It seems like a very interesting place that has held on to its culture.

Thanks for SHARING.


Claudia Tello profile image

Claudia Tello 4 years ago from Mexico Author

Hi Brett.Tesol, you are right, Mexico has a very unique culture that is quite interesting for foreigners; and Mexican food is one of the cultural items that has remained untouched. Sopes like the one in this recipe are eaten everywhere.

I know several English teachers that have done what you are planning and had a very good experience; I would certainly encourage you to do it.

Thanks for your interest and comments.


vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 3 years ago from Peru, South America

We love sopes! I plan to use your recipe next time I make corn tortillas. I even have ground epazote--I bring it from the States. I've read that it aids digestion which is important when eating beans. I love that you add plenty of flavor without the extra salt to your recipes since my husband has to watch his sodium intake. Thank you!


Claudia Tello profile image

Claudia Tello 3 years ago from Mexico Author

vespawoolf, hey! Seeing your enthusiasm for South American food I thought you might like Mexican Sopes. I have heard about the positive digestive properties of epazote as well, great that you have it at hand! Hope you enjoy the recipe. Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to comment.

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