Note: For the 32 days between February 1st and March 4th, I'm adopting a completely vegan lifestyle. Every weekday I'll be updating my progress with a diary entry and a recipe. For past posts, check here!
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The most difficult part of this recipe is making the sopes shells, and really, it's not that difficult once you get the hang of it. I use store-bought instant masa flour to make my dough (Maseca brand), then use my fingertips on a wooden cutting board to spread out small balls of it into circles that I can then form a lip around. Using wood is key, as the dough has a tendency to stick and tear if you use a less porous surface.
Once the shells are formed, it's a quick trip to the deep fryer (A.K.A. my wok), and they're done ready to be filled.
Of course, if you don't want to bother making your own shells (and for some busy folks, I don't blame you!), you could always simply use store-bought tostada shells or even a soft tortilla if you'd like.
The key to really satisfying vegan fare is to make sure you hit a whole bunch of textural highs and lows, and offer some sort of dense, fat-and-protein based food to fill you up. In this case, we get the crispy fried sope shells, followed by a rich and creamy layer of refried beans (I make my own, but you can use store-bought refried beans no problem—just check the label for animal products), a drizzle of hot and tangy salsa verde (another great condiment to have around at all times), crunchy toasted pepitas, and a fresh sprinkle of onions, jalapeños, and cilantro.
This is seriously good stuff, whether you're vegan or not. That's the kind of food worth making a meal out of.
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About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.