Arepas are a staple food in both Venezuela and Colombia. They are corn cakes, made from a special precooked corn flour. You can find this flour in Latin food stores, labeled masarepa, or masa al instante. These simple, satisfying corn cakes are delicious with butter or cream cheese for breakfast, or as an accompaniment to any meal. Colombian arepas tend to be thinner than Venezuelan ones. The thicker ones are perfect for splitting and filling with cheese or meat. Arepas can also be grilled or deep-fried.
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
- 2 1/2 cups masarepa cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 3/4 cups hot water
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- Vegetable oil
- Stir salt into arepa flour.
- Pour hot water over flour and mix well with a wooden spoon. Stir in the melted butter. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let rest 15 minutes.
- If preparing the thicker, Venezuelan style arepas, separate dough into 12 pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball.
- Place each ball in between 2 sheets of plastic wrap or two ziplock bags and flatten gently with the bottom of a pot. Arepas should be about 3 inches in diameter and almost an inch thick. Use your fingers to smooth out any cracks along the edges. Place shaped arepas on cookie sheet, covered with plastic wrap.
- If making the thinner, Colombian-style arepas, divide the dough into 20 pieces, and form into balls. Place balls between 2 pieces of plastic and flatten with a heavy pot or skillet until they are about 3 1/2 inches in diameter and 1/4 inch thick, using your fingers to smooth out any cracks along the edges. Place arepas on a cookie sheet, covered with plastic wrap.
- Heat a cast iron skillet on medium heat. Place 1/2 tablespoon butter or oil in the skillet. Place several arepas in the pan, leaving room so that you can turn them.
- Cook arepas about 5 minutes on each side. The surface should dry and form a crust. They will brown slightly, but do not let them brown too much. They should look like an english muffin. If they are browning too fast, lower the heat. Add more butter or oil for subsequent batches as needed.
- The thinner arepas are done when they have formed a nice crust, but are still soft on the inside. Serve them hot.
- The thicker, Venezuelan-style arepas finish cooking in the oven. Place them on a cookie sheet and heat for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve hot.