We couldn’t leave the Howth Prawn Festival without buying some prawns so we picked up a pound at Nicky’s Plaice. Also, we needed to satisfy a craving for sopes. First, the roasted tomato salsa. I grilled five medium tomatoes, one halved and peeled red onion and three cloves of garlic under the broiler until blackened in spots on both sides. Whizzed the tomatoes and garlic in the food processor until blended but still a bit chunky. Stirred in half the onion chopped, some chopped cilantro, a squeeze of lime juice, a bit of salt, two toasted and torn arbol chiles and a bit of water.
Next, the sopes. I kneaded one cup of masa harina with a bit of salt and enough warm water to make a soft dough then rolled this into nine walnut-sized balls. I pressed them into 3-inch disks in the tortilla press and cooked them three at a time for 2 minutes on each side in a skillet on medium heat. After they’d cooled for a bit I pinched the sides up to form the sopes (they look like little boats) and set them aside, covered, while I worked on the other parts of the meal.
I fried a few slices of smoked streaky bacon until crisp. Into some of the bacon grease went a couple cloves of garlic and the remaining chopped red onion. To this I added a can of black beans (undrained), the crumbled bacon, cumin, oregano, cilantro and salt and left it bubbling on the hob.
The Dublin Bay prawn tails were frankly a pain. They aren’t shrimp but more like little lobsters with hard, spiny shells. I found you could pull the tail off and usually the “vein” (intestines) would come out with it. Squeezing the sides of the tail until the shell on the bottom cracked helped with pulling out the meat. They went in a pan with a few cloves of garlic and some butter. After a couple minutes they were pink and firm and I added some salt, lime juice, cilantro and a torn arbol chile and set them aside.
Finally, I heated a cast-iron skillet over medium heat with enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom. I added the sopes in one layer and salsa to the sopes. I forgot to brush the sopes with the remaining bacon grease so I did it after adding the salsa, but it should be done before adding anything. After a couple minutes the salsa was bubbling a bit so I removed the sopes to the plates and topped them with the prawns. A spoon of beans topped with cubes of avocado completed the plates.
The bottoms of the sopes were browned and crisp, the salsa was slightly smoky and spicy and the prawns sweet–a really nice combination. The beans were very bacony which played nicely with the avocado. Not sure the prawns were worth the effort to extract them but they were tasty.