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Baked Mexican Sopes with Fresh Corn Flour Recipe

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Awake at the Whisk: Baked Mexican Sopes with Fresh Corn Flour Recipe

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Baked Mexican Sopes with Fresh Corn Flour Recipe

Baked Mexican Sopes with Fresh Corn Flour Recipe

That bag of masa harina sat in my cupboard for months. Each time I opened the door I would reach right over the sack and grab instead the baking powder, the sugar, or the beans. But never the masa harina. I bought it with good intentions. I have always wanted to make my own tortillas or tamales. Yet every time I said I would do it, the laundry needed folding or the car needed a smog test. Eventually, I had to throw the bag out.

If you’re like me, and have a bag of unused masa harina, wait no more! Here’s an easy recipe that’s sure to get you baking with that wonderful, fresh corn flour. Once you try these sopes, you’ll return to them again and again. They taste of earthy corn sweetness and fall.

I discovered this recipe in a delightful new vegan cookbook called Viva Vegan by Terry Hope Romero. I love this book! It makes cooking popular Latin dishes seem easy, and for any vegetarian, puts a traditionally meat-heavy cuisine well within your grasp. If you like corn tortillas, you will love these homemade sopes.

Sopes are traditionally fried, but Viva Vegan offers a baked variation of the little corn tarts. There are only three ingredients: masa harina, water, and salt. You can’t mess it up! Shaping them is also easy, because they are meant to look rustic. No dough cutter required. You need only one tool: your hands.

Stuffing the sopes is equally simple. Choose your favorite Latin toppings, and throw them together. Make it as complicated or as simple as you want. I have stuffed mine with a minimal mixture of pinto beans, cheese, and hot sauce. I have also gone fancy by adding marinated onions and aioli to sautéed, fresh veggies.

Think of these tiny sopes as open-faced tacos. The sky is the limit here. Be creative. Have fun. And, finally, use up that bag of masa harina sitting in your cupboard! (Unless it’s no longer fresh. Then I really recommend throwing it out and buying a new one.)

Baked Mexican Sopes with Fresh Corn Flour Recipe (adapted from Viva Vegan)
1 1/2 cups masa harina
1 1/4 cups warm water
½ teaspoon salt

Mix the above ingredients together to form pliable dough. If it's too crumbly, add more water. If it's too moist, add more masa harina. Knead it for a few minutes until smooth, and then return to bowl and cover with a wet cloth.

To make the sope, pinch off the dough and form a ball about the size of a ping pong ball in the palm of your hand. Flatten it to about 1/4-inch thick and pinch the edges to form a little tart. Using a dry skillet (no oil) that's been heated over medium-high flame, place the sopes in the skillet and heat until they are browned on the bottom.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Once all your sopes are browned, place them in the oven on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes.

Or, if you’re in a hurry, you can skip the skillet step and place them in a 425 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until they are firm to the touch.

Now you can fill them with anything your heart desires! You can cover your sopes with a dry towel to keep them warm as you are filling them. I recommend the following:

Sope Filling Recipe

Marinated Onions:
1 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
Juice of one lime
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar

In a small bowl, squeeze enough lime juice over the onion slices to cover. Stir in the salt and sugar. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour to marinate. These pretty onions will keep for two weeks in the fridge and can be made in advance.

Chili Pepper Aioli:
3 Tablespoons organic mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 teaspoon chili powder

Stir together mayonnaise, lime juice, and chili powder. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator. This will keep for a week in the fridge and can be made in advance.

Sautéed Zucchini & Cactus Garnish:
1 zucchini, diced into 1-inch cubes
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 Tablespoons pickled cactus, drained (optional)
1 generous handful cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
2 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly spray a baking sheet with olive oil. Spread the diced zucchini evenly on the sheet and place in the preheated oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until tender firm when poked with a fork. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chili powder and freshly ground black pepper. If you add salt to your food, you can sprinkle some on the zucchini.

Assembling the Sopes
Working with one sope at a time, spread about ½ teaspoon of the chili powder mayonnaise aioli onto the bottom of the sope. Next, pile in your veggies, using a few pieces each of the baked zucchini, cherry tomatoes, cactus, and marinated onions. Top with cilantro.

Yield: 8-10 sopes 

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