Arepas are griddle-fried corn cakes made from a special kind of precooked corn flour called masarepa. They are a delicious food that is very popular in Colombia and Venezuela and they're easy to make at home.
Venezuelan arepas tend to be thicker and are often stuffed with meat and other things to make different kinds of arepa sandwiches, such as the famous reina pepiada with chicken and avocado. Arepas are excellent with any meal but are especially good for breakfast.
Arepas have a crispy exterior with a soft and creamy texture on the inside. They have a milder corn flavor than tortillas or tamales and are perfect for soaking up other flavors like the juices of cooked meat, beans, or aji salsa.
- 2 cups
- masarepa cornmeal
- 1 1/4–2 cups water (warm)
- 1/2 cup milk (or buttermilk)
- 4 tablespoons butter (melted)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- Preheat the oven to 325 F.
- In a large bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients together.
- Add 1 1/4 cups water and the milk. Stir and knead until the mixture is very smooth. Don't worry if the dough appears wet.
- Let the mixture rest, covered, for about 5 to 10 minutes, to give the cornmeal time to absorb some of the liquid. The dough should be smooth and easy to handle, without sticking excessively to your hands. If the dough seems too dry, you can add a little bit more water or milk.
- Knead the dough for several minutes and let it rest again for 5 minutes. The dough should be moist enough that you can shape it into patties without forming lots of cracks around the edges. If the dough is too wet to handle, add a small amount of masarepa, knead until smooth, and let the dough rest for 5 minutes more.
- Take pieces of the dough and shape them with your hands into round disks, about 3/4-inch thick and 3 to 3 1/2 inches in diameter.
- When shaping the arepas, repair any cracks along the edges with your fingers (moistening your fingers with water will help). If the dough is cracking a lot as you shape it, knead some more liquid into the dough until it can be shaped into disks without forming large cracks.
- Lightly grease the surface of a large heavy skillet (cast iron works well) with vegetable oil and heat the skillet over medium heat.
- Place the arepas into the skillet in batches, and turn heat down to medium-low.
- Cook until the arepas are lightly browned on each side (about 3 to 4 minutes per side).
This recipe makes about eight to 10 arepas, depending on the size that you make them. They're best served warm with butter or cheese.
More Ways to Serve Arepas
To stuff an arepa, cut open one side and make room for your filling. Add the desired filling—such as the raw egg in arepas con huevos—and return to the skillet to fry them for a few more minutes. For fillings that don't need to be well cooked, they can be heated up in the oven.
Alternatively, you can cut open an arepa to create two pieces, much as you would an English muffin, and form a sandwich.
This works great for everything from classic deli and breakfast sandwiches to ones that use fillings such as an egg salad or the chicken-avocado blend found in reina pepiada.