Choose one of the following fillings:
- About a cup of warm shredded chicken mixed with warm mole plus some toasted sesame seeds
- About ½ cup warm Frijoles Refritos plus about ½ cup warm, diced Fried Plantains, a few tablespoons Mexican crema (or a substitute), and a little crumbled fresco cheese (or a substitute). These are good with the addition of Chipotle Salsa as well.
- About ¾ cup Guacamole plus a few radish slices for garnish
- About a cup of warm Savory Shredded Beef plus a little grated Mexican añejo cheese or other garnishing cheese like Parmesan or Romano
Form and bake the sopes. Heat a griddle or very large (12-inch) heavy skillet over medium heat. Adjust the consistency of the masa, if necessary, working in a little water to create a dough that is soft—it should be tacky but not sticky. Mix in the salt, lard or oil, baking powder and flour. Divide into 4 portions (each about 4 1/2 ounces), roll into balls and flatten into fat disks that are 3 inches wide and a little over 1 inch thick. Lay on the hot griddle or skillet and bake until richly browned underneath, about 4 minutes, then flip and bake the other side. The masa will not be cooked through. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes on the counter top, then split them in half as you would a bagel (it will be soft since the masa is uncooked in the center), flipping the top part over so it rests on a cooked base. One at a time, use your thumbs and first fingers to pinch up a thickish wall around the edge of each sope, widening the base so that the sopes so they end up being about 3 ½ inches across (anchored by the cooked base) with ¾-inch walls all around. It’s important that the wall be uniformly thick and the bottom be flat so the masa cooks evenly as it fries. These can be prepared a day or so in advance and kept refrigerated, well covered.
Fry and fill the sopes. In a deep, heavy skillet or medium (2- to 3-quart) saucepan set over medium-high, heat an inch of oil to 360 degrees (lacking a thermometer, the oil is hot enough when a corner of a sope sizzles sharply when dipped into the oil). Fry the sopes a few at a time, turning them regularly, until they are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Drain upside down on paper towels. Fill each sope with your chosen filling, layering it in the order listed and mounding it slightly. Serve right away.
A note for professionals: The sope bases can be formed, baked and pinched a day or so ahead. They may be fried up to 20 minutes before they are filled and served. They make a good passed appetizer.