I had the privilege of attending middle school in Venezuela, and it was definitely one of the best experiences of my life. I learned more in those three years than I ever learned in college. Not to say I don’t like my school, GO COOGS! But I highly recommend everyone travel and explore as much as possible, especially if you have kids. I really wish I had hung on to my Spanish better. But I still have the memories and that’s invaluable.
So all of this Venezuela talk leads me up to today’s post, arepas. They’re a staple food there, eaten for any meal, and filled with a number of fillings or eaten plain. They’re cheap, filling, and easy to prepare. I already have a recipe on here, but I have since modified them to be oil-free.
The main modification is to cook them on a griddle covered with parchment paper. This prevents sticking without using oil.
I placed a lid over the parchment paper to hold it in place as the griddle heated up. Be sure to trim the paper so the ends don’t come close to an open flame or heat source.
While the griddle is getting hot, make your dough, let it sit for about 10 minutes, then form the arepas with wet hands. This will help them look nice and smooth out any cracks. The flour used is white corn flour, often called masarepa. It’s a precooked corn flour. Corn meal will not work! You can find this in most major grocery stores or in Hispanic markets. It’s the same flour used to make corn tortillas. Just make sure you get white and not yellow.
You will want to cook these for around 7 minutes per side. Just keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. You aren’t making hockey pucks! Once theyret golden brown and delicious on both sides, serve immediately with corn butter or whatever tickles your fancy. Plantains and black beans are typical fillings. Carne machada is another popular one. Here is my vegan version of carne machada.
2 cups of masarepa
2 cups of warm water
Heat a heavy skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Place a sheet of parchment paper over it. Refer to the picture above to keep it in place.
Make you dough by adding the flour and salt, if using, to a bowl and start with 1.5 cups of water. Mix thoroughly. If it’s crumbly, add more water. You want a smooth dough that holds together well. Let it rest for 10 minutes.
Once your dough has had a chance to rest, form balls anywhere from the size of a golf ball to a baseball depending upon how big you would like them, then flatten with your hands to about 1/4 to 1/3 of an inch thickness. I usually get 4-6 arepas out of 2 cups of masarepa.
Place the arepas onto the hot griddle and cook until golden brown and not sticky. Flip and continue to cook until the other side is golden and not sticky. Split open and spread butter on both sides or fill with your favorite fillings. Serve immediately.