How to Make Sopes (Savory Mexican Corn Cakes) With Masa

Fried corn cakes topped with potato-chorizo hash and drizzled with avocado-lime crema make a great street food-style snack. [Photographs: Lauren Rothman]

Last month, I shared my love of all things made with masa—the versatile Latin American corn dough—as well as a recipe for a quick version of it using the widely available masa harina. Today, I'm here to talk about sopes: another delicious Mexican snack that uses masa as its base.

Sopes before being fried.

A sope is a thin, shallow shell of masa that's fried until it's just crisp, the hot and tender interior piled high with any number of fillings (most often including meat). My very favorite is a traditional potato-chorizo filling. Calling on just three ingredients—super-flavorful, deliciously fatty Mexian pork-and-paprika sausage, diced onion, and boiled potatoes—the filling is crisped hash-style in a pan, resulting in a crunchy-here, tender-there mixture that tops the piping-hot corn shells. A drizzle of light, refreshing avocado-lime crema and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro provide another hit of flavor and texture to the finished dish.

This recipe is a bit time-consuming, but almost all of that time is spent forming the masa into sope shells (which, as anyone who grew up playing with Play-Doh knows, is incredibly fun). Because masa freezes so well—it will stay fresh well-wrapped in the freezer for up to three months—what I usually do is make a big batch of sope shells, then freeze the extras. That way, when I have some leftover refried beans or braised meat on hand, I can just defrost and fry the shells, then fill them with the ingredients I have on hand, and get an impressive dinner on the table in about 15 minutes flat.

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