An arepa is a flat, round, unleavened patty that can be baked, pan fried, grilled, steamed or boiled. It is made of soaked, ground kernels of maize that have been dried and ground into a flour. This corn flour can be made from white or yellow corn. I have used both yellow masarepa from Goya and white corn masarepa from Harina P.A.N. Typically, the flour is mixed with water and salt, but oil, butter and milk can be added to the base recipe for a twist.
Arepas are popular in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, the Canary Islands, Panama, and are especially iconic in the cuisines of Venezuela and Colombia. In Colombia, there are over 75 different ways they can be prepared. Colombian cities Bogota, Medillin, Cali, Barranquilla and Bucaramanga each celebrate the Colombian Arepa Festival.
This recipe is an extremely basic version and the cooking process is fairly simple. The result is an amazing patty that is both crispy and chewy and soft. Once you’ve taken one bite it, you’ll understand why it is such a hugely popular dish. Plus, since you can split it and fill it with whatever your heart desires, it lends itself to endless culinary creativity. Try it plain with some butter or fill it to the brim with your favorite sandwich fixings; I recommend trying it with a fried egg, colby jack and queso fresco cheese, thick cut applewood smoked bacon, smoky tomato and tomatillo salsa, and spinach. Buen provecho!
2 cups of masarepa (I have used Goya and Harina P.A.N. brands, yellow and white)
3 cups of warm water
1 teaspoon of salt
In a large bowl, combine your warm water and salt. Allow the salt to dissolve. Add your masarepa slowly into the water, stirring to combine. Once fully mixed, set it aside for 10 minutes to allow full water absorption.
Divide your dough into 8 equal portions and shape them into discs. If your dough cracks, it is to dry.
Either preheat your arepa maker or set a pan over medium high heat. Put some butter in your pan, and place in your arepas. Cook for a few minutes of each side, until golden brown. If your arepa is thick, you will need to cook them for longer. I have an arepa maker and it took me about 20 minutes, turning them over halfway through.
Allow them to cool for about 5 minutes before splitting them with a fork. Top with butter, cream cheese, meats, a fried egg, cheeses, salsa, guacamole, refried beans- anything your heart desires.
Smoky tomato and tomatillo salsa
1 cup grape tomatoes
2 large tomatillos, skins removed and cut into chunks
1 medium sweet onion, cut into chunks
3 large garlic cloves
2 tablespoons of chipotle in adobo
salt and pepper to taste
In a high powered blender or food processor, combine all of your ingredients. Process until you reach your desired consistency. I like my salsa still relatively chunky, so I let my Vitamix blend under medium speed for less than a minute. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.
I love using this as a topping on my arepa breakfast sandwich, but it is divine to eat with some tortilla chips. Happy snacking!