Arepa, Arepa, Arepa!

Comfort foods are good for the soul. It’s the kind of food that makes you feel happy, brings back memories or even transports you back to the good ol’ days. A few of my favorite comfort foods are congee, hor fun (thick flat rice noodle – any style), Chinese style roasted duck, and arepas. And the list goes on….Yum yum…

The arepa was introduced to me by my friend from Venezuela. They are now among my favorite foods and I love to make and eat them from time to time.

Arepas are cornmeal patties that are eaten in Venezuela. They are quick to make, healthy and can be eaten at any time of the day. As for the fillings, you can put meat, eggs, tomatoes, salad, cheese, shrimp, or fish.

The arepas that I made are Latin-inspired crab salad arepas and a ham and feta cheese (in place of queso fresco) arepas. The crab salad arepa is tasty, zesty, creamy, fresh and beautiful. The ham and cheese arepa is simple and delicious.

Crab Salad Arepa - Creamy, refreshing and delicious!
Ham and Cheese Arepa - Simple and Delicious! (Sorry for the dirty plate, just finished the crab salad arepa before plating this one.)

Arepa Recipe (Makes 6 arepas)

2 cups Harina P.A.N Flour
2 cups of water
A pinch of salt

1. Put 2 cups of Harina flour in a mixing bowl. Add salt and mix through with dry clean hands.

2. Measure 2 cups of warm water and pour onto flour.

3. Knead together the flour and water with your hands until the mixture is thoroughly blended and there are no grainy lumps.

4. If the is too soggy and sticks to your fingers add more flour. If it is too dry add water. The perfect dough should roll easily into a large ball without cracking.

5. Break off a fistful of the dough and roll it into a ball in your hands. Then pat it and turn it in your hands until its about half an inch thick and about 3-4 inches across. It should have the classic flying saucer shape now.

6. Make the rest of the arepas you want to cook. If any dough is left over wrap it in plastic – to keep in the moisture – and place in fridge. It will keep for three to four days.

7. Heat a little oil in a heavy frying pan or griddle and when hot add the arepas, as many as will comfortably fit in the pan. The idea is to give the arepas a crunchy exterior (“una cara”, literally a face, as they say in Venezuela) so don’t turn the heat up too high. When the arepas are brown on one side turn them over. The whole process should not take longer than 10 minutes.

8. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

9. When arepas have been browned, reduce oven to 200 degrees, place arepas on a baking tray at the top of the oven for 15-20 minutes.

10. Make an incision in the arepa – slicing through the middle but not going all the way – and then open it up like a pocket for the filling.

Serve with any kind of filling and enjoy!


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