Sopes: A Guide to Mexico’s Iconic Thick Corn Cakes

Sopes are a beloved street food and appetizer in Mexican cuisine. These small, thick corn cakes are topped with a variety of ingredients for a flavorful and portable snack. If you’ve ever wondered what exactly sopes are and how to make them, this guide will tell you everything you need to know!

What Are Sopes?

Sopes, sometimes called picaditas or pellizcadas, are a traditional Mexican dish made from masa, or corn dough. They consist of a thick, round base made of masa that is fried until slightly crisp. The base is then topped with various ingredients like meat, beans, cheese, lettuce, and salsa.

Sopes are considered an antojito – a Mexican street food or appetizer. They are meant to be picked up and eaten by hand. The raised edges around the sope help contain the hearty toppings. Sopes can range in size from about 3-6 inches across.

Origins and History

Sopes likely originated from the region between Puebla and Oaxaca in central Mexico. However, they are now popular throughout the country with many regional variations. Thousands of different sope recipes exist!

The dish has ancient roots tracing back to the Aztecs. Sopes are related to tlacoyos and memelitas, other antojitos made from corn dough. Over the centuries, sopes evolved to become a beloved street food found everywhere from local markets to family gatherings.

Ingredients: Masa as the Foundation

The main ingredient in sopes is masa harina, or corn flour. When mixed with water, masa harina becomes a pliable dough that can be shaped into disks and fried.

Recipes generally call for:

  • Masa harina
  • Warm water
  • Salt
  • Lard or oil

The masa dough is shaped into rounds, briefly fried, then filled with various toppings per the recipe.

Toppings and Fillings

One of the best parts of sopes is customizing them with your favorite fillings! Traditional options include:

  • Refried beans
  • Shredded meat like chicken, beef or pork
  • Cheese such as queso fresco
  • Lettuce
  • Onions
  • Salsa
  • Sour cream
  • Avocado

Get creative with vegetables, hot sauces, herbs and other mix-ins! The filling options for sopes are endless.

How to Shape and Cook Sopes

Shaping and cooking the sope base takes a bit of practice. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Take a ball of masa dough and gently flatten it into a disk using your hands.
  3. Carefully place the sope base in the hot oil and fry for 1-2 minutes per side until lightly browned.
  4. Use your fingers to pinch the outer 1⁄2 inch of the sope to form a raised edge.
  5. Flip and fry for 1 more minute to crisp the edges.
  6. Drain freshly fried sopes on a paper towel before filling.

Customize Your Sopes

Once you’ve mastered the sope base, the fun part begins – choosing your fillings! Feel free to play with different ingredients and spice mixes in the masa dough too.

Some tasty combinations include:

  • Refried beans, pork carnitas, onion, cilantro
  • Shredded chicken, queso fresco, lettuce, salsa
  • Carne asada, guacamole, queso fresco, onion
  • Frijoles, cabbage, avocado, crema, queso fresco

The options for custom sopes are endless!

Bring Sopes to Your Table

Sopes are meant to be enjoyed fresh and hot off the skillet. Serve them right away on plates or let guests assemble their own combinations for a fun, interactive meal.

This traditional Mexican street food is easy to recreate at home. With just a few ingredients and some practice shaping the masa base, you’ll be able to enjoy flavor-packed sopes anytime. So get creative with your favorite fillings and dig into these delicious corn cakes!

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Bill Kalkumnerd
Bill Kalkumnerd

I am Bill, I am the Owner of HappySpicyHour, a website devoted to spicy food lovers like me. Ramen and Som-tum (Papaya Salad) are two of my favorite spicy dishes. Spicy food is more than a passion for me - it's my life! For more information about this site Click

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