Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pulled Pork Sopes ("Masa Boats")

Pulled Pork Sopes

We did a smoked pork butt a while back and were faced with the inevitable bounty of leftovers. Pulled pork tacos are our go-to dish for this circumstance, but we wanted to try something new. We decided to see how pulled pork would do as a filling for sopes. I'm glad we did, because it turns out that pulled pork sopes are really, really good.

Sopes are a delightful Mexican antojito made by forming little "boats" of masa and filling them with your ingredient of choice. We use a Rick Bayless recipe from Mexico One Plate at a Time. Given how easy sopes are to make, it is really more of a simple technique than a recipe.

You start by preparing masa just as you would for corn tortillas: add warm water to dry masa harina until it has the consistency of soft cookie dough, add a little salt (a scant teaspoon of kosher salt per two cups masa harina) and then let the dough rest at least 15 minutes to fully hydrate. Just before cooking, shape into balls about the size of a golf ball.

Masa Balls for Sopes

Once you have your masa balls ready, flatten them in a tortilla press to a thickness about twice what you would do for a tortilla and pop them into a dry frying pan over medium-high heat.


Once they have puffed up a bit but are not too browned on the bottom, you can take them out and crimp up the sides to mold them into the sope boat shape:

Forming a Sope

Then it is back into the frying pan - this time with some oil drizzled around. Add in your toppings and cook the masa the rest of the way through.

Pulled Pork Sopes

Sopes are best eaten when they are just out of the pan with the masa still hot and crispy. When we have sopes we generally make a few different kinds. We really like simple ones with just a bit of cheese topped with salsa (we like them with both red and green - you can find the the recipe we use for salsa verde here).

Sope with Salsa Verde and Cheese

This time we had some leftover pipián, a pumpkin seed dip/salsa we learned to make in Oaxaca. It made for a very satisfying filling:

Pipián Sope

Sopes are a perfect blank canvas just waiting to take on the character of whatever ingredient you choose to fill them with. The next time you're thinking of having some tacos, try something different and make sopes instead.


  1. Wow....those look incredible! I have been wanting to pick up his cookbook, and I think this has now pushed me over the edge. This is definitely on the "must do" list.

  2. What an excellent walk-through - i was eyeing the Bayless's recipe for a long time but you broke it to steps and now it really looks quite doable! Thanks!

  3. Thanks, Mike. Definitely pick up the cookbook. We also have a couple others of his, and they are good as well.

    Helena - glad it was helpful!

  4. i'm such a fan of rick - your masa boats look superb!

  5. Nice job! you have me craving some masa based antojitos now, I hope to make some this weekend.

  6. kiss my spatula, Masa - Thanks! We haven't gone wrong with any of Rick's recipes yet.

  7. This looks really good! We had REALLY awesome sopes as an off-menu special tapas offering at Kansas City's Extra Virgin a couple weeks ago and I have been thinking about them since! The server called them "sopas" which I thought was "soup," but when I searched a little harder I found the correct spelling and it led me right here. YUM!

    The way Michael Smith (Extra Virgin exec chef/owner) made his was with a really thick, but flat masa base and a big round pile (thick giant ice cream scoop) of a jicama/cabbage slaw and shrimp. They were AWESOME. I can't wait to give these a try sometime soon! A little hard to make for one person, but I'll still try! :-)

  8. Hi Liquid Diet - we haven't made sopes in a while - we're overdue. Definitely try making them - they really aren't very hard.


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