An Arepa is best described as dense, yet spongy corn-flour rounds, or pita-like corn pockets which are actually corn pancakes. Crisp on the outside and steamy-soft in the middle, these unleavened patties pay homage to South America's traditional national cuisine, specifically Venezuela + Columbia.
Sometimes nicknamed "the burrito killer" because of it's soft and smooth insides with its golden crispiness. Arepas can be a snack or a meal, and made as exotic as your culinary imagination. Their versatility is the reason why they are at the center of every meal, served from breakfast to dinner in South America.
The Arepa is commonly eaten plain with coffee + eggs.
The Arepa is commonly stuffed with an infinite amount of savory fillings such as; black beans, pulled pork or grilled chorizo + grilled shrimp.
The Arepa is commonly topped with cheeses such as cheddar or queso fresco, grilled eggplant, avacado, tomatoes with caramelized onions (as a veggie option).
Serve a spicy chimichurri sauce on the side.
Note about corn flour: Arepa flour is a pre-cooked corn flour and should not be confused with masa harina. Arepa flour is sold as masarepa, harina precocida, or masa al instante. It can be found in Latin American groceries under the names Harina Pan from Venezuela or Goya Masa de Arepa is a good substitute; either white or yellow.
There are many recipes and variations to making arepas. Some traditional ways call for no oil but I prefer the softness the oil lends to this recipe.
Makes 4 – Three-inch cakes
1 1/4 cups arepa flour, see note*
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 teaspoon vegetable or canola oil, plus extra for cooking
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a bowl, mix arepa flour and salt. Pour in water and mix with a spoon until the dough comes together. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 5 minutes. Remove dough from bowl. Place on a wooden board and knead for about 5 minutes moistening your hands and board lightly with additional warm water while kneading if necessary.
The dough should be smooth and free from cracks around the edges. It should be moist and not sticky. Form into four smooth balls and flatten with the palms of your hands into disks about 3-inches around and 1/2 inch thick.
Add a small amount of oil to a pre-heated non-stick pan over medium heat and cook arepas on each side just until a very light brown and a crust forms.
Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until the arepas make a hollow sound when tapped. Cut a slit in one side of the arepa to make a pocket with fillings.
Stuff arepas with pre made fillings such as black beans, pulled pork, grilled chorizo, grilled shrimp, cheeses such ascheddar or queso fresco & grilled eggplant with tomatoes, caramelized onions as a veggie pleaser.
Serve with a Chimichurri made from a mix of parsley, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, salt, fresh ground black pepper
*Note about corn flour: Arepa flour is a pre-cooked corn flour and should not be confused with masa harina. Arepa flour is sold as masarepa, harina precocida, or masa al instante. It can be found in Latin American groceries under the names Harina Pan from Venezuela or Goya Masa de Arepa is a good substitute; either white or yellow.