Making Sopes

We have a monthly group that gets together to drink.

OKAY we call it a wine tasting, and yes it really is what we do -

A wine is selected, let's say Tempranillo for this post, everyone searches out and reports in when they have made their acquisition, the others are notified so there are no duplicates and they bring their bottle of locally purchased Tempranillo on the appointed night. Everyone typically also brings a little nosh for before the tasting starts. We have plain crackers and light bland cheese for during the tasting, notes are taken, discussion on the nuance and subtleties, yada, yada, yada, just fill the glass will you! Tallies are taken, and the wines are ranked. Fun is had by all.

So, getting to the point of this post -

I can't have a bunch of drunkerds rolling

out of my house and trying to drive home

so I always prepare a little post tasting sumthin

- and the other day I decided to make

sopes (pronounced "SOH-peh") and nopal salad!

Sopes are sort of like a soft taco, except the base is thicker, and has a lovely little ridge to hold all the goodies in. Sopes apparently originated in Culiacán which is a city in northwestern Mexico, and is the largest city in the state of Sinaloa. Sopes are traditionally fried, but I baked mine. Wait, let's start at the beginning -

I stopped in at my local tortilleria

and inquired of the ladies if any of them could provide me with 30 sopes for a price, they just looked at me and said they were easy and I should just buy the masa. OK they are easy...not really the point. They didn't know anyone that would make them for, so hey, I'm retired, I've got plenty of free time...

I'm really bad about recipes, I just cook. So here are my best guesses on what I actually did.

I have varied my sopes from traditional, in that traditionally sopes are made from straight masa - I think they are too tough and dry, so I made mine more like you make an empanada; corn masa, flour, salt, and oil. Of course traditionally you use manteca, rendered pork fat.

SOPES - To 1 1/2 kilos of masa, I added about 1/3 cup of oil, 1 cup of flour, ,and a large pinch of salt, mixed this all by hand and set it aside.

I cut a large baggie so that I had 2 sheets of stiff plastic. I took about a golfball size wad of the prepared masa and squished it between the two sheets till about a 5" circle. Then pinched up the edges to create the lip.

I then placed them on a baking sheet and baked at 160c, the lowest my oven will go for about 15minutes. Then I placed some cheese on some and returned them to the oven for 3-5 minutes.

Don't they look gorgeous, and they are soft and pliable rather than stiff and tough.

For the FILLING I sauteed chopped chayote, zucchini, poblano chili, onion, tomato, garlic, added canned sliced mushrooms and canned corn, and fresh chopped cilantro. Cooked that till still toothy, but not too crunchy, add a bit of chilisal and stir. Set that aside.

I put all the stuff into separate bowls and had the guests prepare their own sopes.

Select a base, put in sauteed filling, add fresh cilantro, and queso freso, then I also had minced onion and habanero mixed with fresh lime juice to add a bit a spiciness.

NOPAL SALAD - 3 paddles or leaves of fresh nopal, cut into 1/2 inch long strips then cut to one inch pieces, and boiled for 20 minutes in lots of salted water. Rinsed several times, then drain and let cool. Chop onion, tomatos, cilantro, mix with the nopal, squeeze 3 or 4 limes onto this, add a bit of salt and let rest. to serve I just add a bit of crumbled panela cheese to the top.