Short Rib Sopes

Chili and tomato braised short rib in deep-fried masa cups with pickled onions and cilantro crema.

To celebrate Cinco de Mayo, I made these Mexican deep-fried sopes, filled with tender short rib and served with cilantro lime crema.

Many of the ingredients that go into the beef braise get toasted. Toasting the spices and tomato paste develops a richer flavor, but there is the danger of burning them. Have all of your ingredients ready to go so you can quickly move through the steps. If you find that the cooking is still going too fast, turn down or remove the pan from the heat. It may take a little longer to cook, but you don’t want to scorch it.

Sopes are a masa base with assorted savory toppings. Traditionally they are formed by making thick tortillas, pan-frying them, and pinching up the sides. I went an easier route with these by pre-shaping the cups and deep-frying them.

When working with masa, you will want to keep the dough moist. If the dough gets dried out, it will be harder to work with, and the finished product will be dry. Lay a towel or plastic over any dough that isn’t being used. I also keep a dish with water nearby to wet my hands while I shape the cups.

There is no right or wrong way to shape the cups. I described below what works best for me. The sopes should have deep enough sides that can hold meat and sauce, with no holes or cracks in the dough. The great part about working with masa is that if it doesn’t turn out right the first time, you can easily reroll it!

Short Rib Sopes

Course Appetizer, Snack
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings 40


Short Rib

  • 2 1/2 pounds short rib boneless trimmed of excess fat
  • 2 cups onion chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 tsp coriander seed
  • 1/4 tsp black peppercorn
  • 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp hot chili powder
  • 4 cup chicken or beef stock
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • queso fresco as needed for garnish
  • lime wedges as needed for garnish


  • 4 cups masa harina
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups hot water
  • oil for frying
  • salt as needed

Cilantro Crema

  • 1/2 cup crema or sour cream
  • 4 tsp lime juice 1 lime
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp cilantro chopped more for garnish

Pickled Onion

  • 1/2 red onion julienne
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup lime juice 2 limes


Short Rib

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the short rib into chunks about 2×4 inches and season with salt. Heat an ovenproof deep-sided skillet or dutch oven with the oil over medium hight-heat. Sear the short ribs on all sides and remove them from the skillet. Add onions and garlic to the pan and brown. Add the peppercorns and coriander seed and toast for 1 minute. Stir in the chili powder and paprika. Then add the tomato paste. Cook the tomato paste for 2-5 minutes. Stir almost constantly so as not to burn, turning down the heat if necessary. Add the stock and oregano. Add the short ribs back to the pot and bring to a simmer. Cover and place in the oven for 2 1/2-3 hours, flipping over every hour. Short ribs should be fall-apart tender. Make the sopes, crema, and onions while the beef is cooking.
  • Remove the short ribs from the sauce. Strain the sauce and skim off any fat. Place the sauce back into the pan and reduce until thick. Shred the beef and mix with the reduced sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm until ready to serve.


  • Mix the masa with the salt. Add the hot water and mix until the dough comes together. Weigh the dough into 1 ounce balls. Cover them with a towel to keep them from drying out. Press the balls into discs. Press down in the center of the discs to form a cup with sides. The cups will be about 2 inches wide and 3/4 of an inch tall.
  • When all the sopes have been made. Heat a pot with oil to 350 degrees. Fry the cups for about 10 minutes flipping over ever so often. The cups will brown and crisp on the outside. Drain on paper towels and season with salt.
  • Fill each cup with a heaping spoonful of the short rib. Garnish with queso fresco, pickled onion, and cilantro. Serve immediately with crema and lime wedges.

Cilantro Crema

  • Mix all of the ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to use.

Pickled Onions

  • Mix the onions with salt and let stand for 2 minutes. Mix in the lime juice and allow to pickle for at least 30 minutes.

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