Yesterday I had a craving for sopes, little masa "boats" which you fill with anything of your choosing. They taste delicious, crispy and tender all at once. This recipe is from Ric Bayless and contains riced potato, as well as masa harina. I've never made this recipe before and wondered why the dough was so moist. Later, I realized that I put too much water into the masa when I reconstituted it. Despite that, the sopes were quite nice. So, it shows that they're very forgiving of a cook's blunders. Sopes can be made in advance, up to the point of frying them, so they're good party food. They're fried briefly at the last minute, then handed off to your grateful guests. They can then fill the little boats with fillings you set out. A key flavoring for these little delights is my old standby, cilantro. It would have been a crisis if I couldn't use it here. It's mixed in the salsa, and scattered on top of the sopes. It looks lovely as a garnish, but any cilantro lover knows that using it is much more than for appearance. To me, a dish like this without cilantro is missing a vital ingredient. It wouldn't taste right.
And of course, this is Weekend Herb Blogging, which was created by the lovely Kalyn nearly a year ago! Next week will be the anniversary of WHB, so make sure to check with Kalyn then. This week WHB is being hosted by Piperita at The Kitchen Pantry . Go to her site for the roundup and see all the wonderful dishes prepared by other herb bloggers.
Sopes are usually made with masa alone, but this recipe, which makes around 20, called for the addition of potato. I cut the recipe in half because just Bob and I would be eating them. When I did so, I inadvertently added too much water to the dough. It made them slightly harder to form, and I wasn't able to make the little rim as high as I wanted because of that. Normally, making sopas is like using Play Dough. Great fun for kids of all ages.
Here is one of my favorite tricks that I learned from Nigella Lawson. You don't need to peel a potato if you use a ricer. Boil the potato in its skin, which will keep it from getting waterlogged. Then, simply put the cooked potato, cut side down, into the ricer.
After the rice and masa have been kneaded into a soft dough, you roll it into balls and make tiny tortillas. You don't need a tortilla press at all. You place each ball between pieces of plastic and press with your fingers into a little tortilla about 2 1/2 inches in diameter.
Flip the sope over onto your palm and peel the remaining piece of plastic off, then flip the sope bottom side down onto a hot non-stick skillet. Cook for about a minute or so until the bottom has loosened from the surface. This sets the bottom of the sope, but leaves the rest uncooked.
Place the sopes on a plate and prick the middle surface with a fork, careful not to go all the way through. This prevents the sopes from puffing when you fry them. Set them aside, covered with plastic wrap until you are ready to fry them--for as much as 2-4 hours.
Just before you serve them, heat 1/2 inch oil in a heavy pan to 350 degrees (or until a sope dipped into the oil sizzles vigorously) and cook until the sopes are a rich brown color--about a minute or two. Drain upside down, then serve filled with goodies --or let people fill them themselves. After they're fried, they don't hold well. Serve and eat them immediately.
Potato Sopes (masa boats) (Ric Bayless, Mexico One Plate At A Time)
Makes 9 Sopes
One medium russet potato (cut up or whole, peeled or not)
1/2 cup powdered masa harina mixed with 1/4 cup, plus 2 Tablespoons warm water
vegetable to 1/2 inch for frying
In a pan, boil the potatoes in salted water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and cool. Push the potatoes through a ricer or medium grade mesh. Measure out 1/2 cup of the potatoes and use the remainder for something else. Combine the 1/2 cup potatoes with the masa and knead until like soft cookie dough.
Forming the sopes
Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Divide dough into 9 portions and roll into balls and cover with plastic wrap to keep from drying.
One by one, form the balls into small, fat tortillas, by pressing them between two pieces of plastic (cut from a ziploc bag. ) Press the dough between the plastic into a circle about 2 1/2 inches in diameter and about 1/4 inches thick. Use you thumb and index finger to pinch a rim about 1/2 inch high to form a little boat. Flip the sopa, uncovered side down on your palm and gently peel off the second piece of plastic, then flip the sopa onto the skillet, flat side down. Cook for about a minute or so until the bottom is loosened. This set the bottom of the sope, but doesn't cook the rest of the masa. Repeat with the remaining balls of dough and set the sopes aside, covered with plastic until ready to fry.
In a deep heavy pan, heat 1/2 inch of oil to 350 degrees, or until the edge of one of the sopes dipped into the oil sizzles vigorously. Cook the sopes, a few at a time in the oil until a golden brown--about a minute or two and remove to drain upside down on paper towels. Fill the sopes with a choice of fillings or serve them to people and let them assemble the sopes themselves. Fill the sopes with black beans and top with avocado slices and salsa. Or put a spoonful of salsa, with feta or cotija cheese and garnish with cilantro. Guacamole tastes wonderful too, as does any meat or seafood.
1/2 cup minced onions
1-3 cloves garlic, minced
1-3 jalapenos, minced
3 tomatoes, seeded and drained, diced small
3 tablespoons minced cilantro
Mix together and season with salt.
Use canned beans or cook them yourself. A good recipe is chili-orange beans from Mustards Grill .