My friends Juana and Rosa came to my kitchen and cooked sopes for me. One of the things I most love about cooking and recipes is so much of what and how we know to cook something is passed down through generations. Intentionally or not. There have been times when I’ve asked my Mom to show me how she makes something or to give me the list of ingredients. But more times, I just watched. I’ve watched my Mom cook always, still do. We stand and talk, or I help chop or peel and she cooks. I bet there are things you know how to do in the kitchen that you don’t know how you know it. Which spoon you pick up, when to lift a corner and peek to see if it’s done. Why when you make tomato sauce that you automatically gather together the basics of what you’ll need. Chances are you watched someone cook. It’s by far the best way to learn. Recipes and cookbooks are fabulous tools, but the best thing about them is that when you make a recipe exactly as they ask you to, you learn a method and a technique that you’ll take with you to another recipe.
Juana and Rosa came to this country with their family from Mexico City. They were in 16 and 10 when they got here so they had already been helping in the kitchen, watching their mother and grandmother cook. They brought those memories with them and continued making the same dishes with their own families. We’ve been talking about the food they grew up with and they agreed to come and cook something for me. They chose to make sopes. I wasn’t sure what they meant but they came and showed me. It was so much fun watching them, they’ve obviously cooked together before. They brought all the ingredients, and I asked questions, took pictures, and watched. Of course, after checking the web, there are as many different versions as there are kitchens to cook them in, but this is Juana and Rosa’s version. Anytime someone lets you into their life, even for a short time, shows you their traditions, tells you their stories, makes food for you, it’s a great gift. I’m very grateful and happy that I was given this glimpse into their memories and that I got to share the food with them. iGracias, Juana y Rosa, fue maravilloso!
There’s really not a recipe here. They brought me the masa already mixed, as well as the salsa and the beans. All I can really show you is the method of forming the masa, and cooking it. This is the list of the ingredients they used.
thinly sliced beef steak
chorizo removed from the casing
finely chopped onion
jalapeno and tomatillo salsa
The method is basically as follows: Roll the masa, using a tortilla press or rolling-pin into a approx. 5″ round disk about 1/4″ thick. Cook on a griddle until the corn cake begins to darken slightly and look dull (it won’t be brown). While the cake is warm pinch a rim along the edge about 3/8″ high and pinch a few pieces in the middle. (Not sure why, lost in translation). When they’ve cooled to the touch, fry in 2 tsp. of lard (either vegetable or animal will work equally well) until the edges are golden. Begin to assemble, beans, then meat, a sprinkle of onions, a dollop of sour cream, salsa, and finally cheese. You use your hands to eat these, pay no attention to the fork in the photos. I tried using a fork but Juana told me it was more delicious when you pick it up. That’s the final word.
If you have any questions, contact me and I’ll try to answer or get the answers for you. These were great…try them.