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Breakfast Sopes With Refried Beans, Queso Fundido, Poached Eggs, and Salsa Recipe

Why It Works

  • A blend of queso Oaxaca and extra-sharp white cheddar makes for extra-melty queso fundido with a bold flavor.
  • Xnipec, a fruity, spicy Mayan salsa, provides acidity to cut through the richness of the cheese and refried beans.

A sope is a thin, shallow shell of masa that’s fried until it’s just crisp before the hot and tender interior is piled high with any number of fillings (beans, lettuce, salsa, crumbled queso, and shredded meat are common). They’re often served as antojitos, or appetizers, but my favorite way to enjoy sopes is for breakfast or brunch. This recipe combines my love of sopes with elements from my favorite breakfast dishes. 

Serious Eats/Lorena Masso

It features crispy sopes loaded with hearty refried beans that are smothered in a thick layer of queso fundido accented with bacon bits and fresh chiles. A perfectly poached egg is nestled on top of each filled sope with a spoonful of spicy and acidic xnipec, a Mayan salsa that’s a favorite on my family’s table. The dish is savory and filling, and each sope features a gorgeous array of colors. This is not your everyday easy eggs over toast kind of breakfast, but rather a showstopping, meant-to-impress brunch I enjoy making for friends.

Admittedly, shaping and frying the sopes and preparing the various fillings is an ambitious project, but this incredible breakfast is well worth the effort. Here are a few tips for making the sopes along with the various fillings, and how to bring it all together for restaurant-worthy breakfast sopes at home. If you’re not in a brunchy mood, the base sopes recipe I’ve included here can also be used with a wide variety of fillings—a popular combination is shredded meat, lettuce, salsa, crema, and queso fresco.

Tips for Making the Sopes

It might be tempting to reach for packaged sopes at a local market, but I recommend making sopes fresh at home since store-bought raw sopes can dry out easily once fried. Making the masa and shaping the dough at home allows you to control the hydration of the masa.

Test the moisture level of the dough: Before you start shaping your sopes, test the moisture level of the masa by smashing a small amount between your palms. If it’s sticky and moist, the dough will be too difficult to shape—if this happens, knead more masa harina into the dough. Low hydration is ideal for sopes to ensure that they fry up crisp.

Serious Eats/Lorena Masso

Shape the sopes by hand: There are a couple of ways to shape sopes. Some people flatten the ball of masa in a tortilla press, but I find it easier to flatten them between your palm and a flat surface, such as a kitchen counter. To shape sopes for frying, start by flattening each dough portion into a pancake, then fold the perimeter upward by about one inch, pinching the edge into itself to give it structure. The one-inch tall wall will hold the toppings in place. Next, make sure the base is flat and even by repeatedly tapping across the entire crater with your fingertips.Take the time to get the shape just right, as this will ensure the sopes hold their cupped form once fried. 

Fry the sopes: Street vendors throughout Mexico often use a comal (a large flat griddle) to par-cook the sopes before frying them. Before their final shaping, the flattened raw masa pieces are griddled on both sides before folding the edges up to form their signature cup shape. This is done very quickly while the hot par-cooked masa is still pliable, before they are then dipped in a vat of oil and fried until crisp. When making sopes at home, you don’t need a large comal to sear them before frying. I find that frying the sopes in a deep skillet or wok instead of cooking them on a comal is less finicky because you can shape the masa and fry it without needing to handle a hot, par-cooked masa pancake. 

The most challenging part of frying the sopes is keeping the shape of the ridge while the masa is still soft. The trick is to fry them flat side down first in enough oil to submerge the outside of the rim and allow it to crisp before flipping. You’ll need to support the base with a spatula or spider skimmer as you gently flip it over.

The Breakfast Sopes Toppings

Fill With Refried Beans Topped With an Ooey and Gooey Queso Fundido

While refried beans in sopes are typically topped with crumbled curds of queso fresco or queso cotija, I wanted a gooey melted cheese accompaniment for these sopes so I landed on a queso fundido. Queso fundido (also known as queso flameado when served as a flambé) is cheese that is melted down and often mixed with toppings.

Serious Eats/Lorena Masso

I started by testing the recipe with queso Oaxaca, and while I loved the meltiness, it didn’t quite have enough flavor. I found that incorporating extra-sharp white cheddar added a funkiness similar to cotija that was bold enough to shine through among all the other flavors in the dish.

As for the mix-ins for the queso fundido, I went with bacon in this recipe, but carnitas or chorizo are a great substitutes if you prefer a different add-in. Pouring the finished queso fundido over the refried beans made a more attractive presentation than when I stirred the queso and the beans together.

Serve with a Sharp and Spicy Salsa

At this point, the sopes were very rich and desperately needed some acidity for balance. I immediately thought of xnipec, a Mayan salsa from the Yucatán that features onions and habaneros pickled in the juice of a sour orange. In this recipe, I swap in a more readily available citrus juice—a blend of orange, lime, and grapefruit juice—to mimic the flavor of sour oranges. I wanted to boost the acidity and fruitiness of the salsa even further by adding diced pineapple. I briefly broiled the pineapple to develop a charred flavor before dicing and tossing it with the rest of the salsa right before serving. The result is a spicy and bright salsa featuring slivers of red onion and habanero that are lightly pickled from the acidic mixture.

Poach the Eggs Just Before Serving

While I prefer crispy fried eggs in almost every other application, I found the tender whites and runny yolk of a poached egg provided a nice contrast to the crunch of the sopes. I recommend poaching the eggs right before you are ready to fill and serve the sopes so they are still nice and warm when you’re ready to eat. If the eggs do get cool, you can gently reheat them in simmering water. 

Bringing it All Together: Tips for Assembling the Sopes

Serious Eats/Lorena Masso

To get the filled and assembled sopes on the table hot, the order of operations is critical. Start by making the xnipec, which can be done a few days ahead. The refried beans can also be cooked up to four days ahead and rewarmed in the oven before topping with the queso fundido. If you choose to make the refried beans fresh the day of serving, hold them warm in the oven while assembling and frying the sopes. Once the sopes are fried, transfer them to a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet and set aside while you prepare the queso fundido. While the queso topped beans are baking, poach the eggs. The sopes can be room temperature when filling, but if you prefer them warm, reheat in the oven at 400°F (200ºC) for about 3 minutes, after the queso topped refried beans have finished cooking.

To assemble the sopes, the beans and queso fundido need to be spread on the base quickly while the cheese mixture is still melty. Then, top each portion with a poached egg and a scoop of xnipec. Then serve the rest of the salsa at the table so people can add as much as they can handle—I personally like enough to make enough to make me sweat.

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