Arepas de Venezuela

Hopefully you clicked on this blog title just to find out what exactly is an arepa.  It is a traditional Venezuelan food most commonly eaten at breakfast, dinner or as a “sober up” snack at the end of a GREAT fiesta.  It’s corn based “bread” formed into patties then baked or fried in either a savory or sweet variety.  From there… possibilities are endless.  You can fill them with black beans and cojita cheese known as a “domino”, shredded beef, shredded or sliced cheese, chicken avocado salad (aka La Reina Pepiada).DSC_0255

Since it’s not likely that I will travel to Venezuela any time soon to get the real thing, I implored my wonderful friend, Valentina, who grew up in Venezuela, and has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to cooking delicious foods.  She opened her home and shared with me the true Venezuelan tips on how to make delicious Arepas.

The beauty of this food is its simplicitybut variety at the same time.  The recipe below is only for the arepa itself.

Tip #1 learned from Valentina – there is no exact recipe. (WHAT!??!) Yes. It’s true.  You can estimate the amounts of water, PAN, and salt you need, but there are no hard and fast rules.  It’s all about the texture of the dough mixture.

Ingredients:DSC_0222
PAN
Warm water
Salt
*Anise (Tip #2 – add this to make sweet arepas)

Directions:
Grab a medium to large bowl with some depth.  Add about 1 in of warm water to the bottom of the bowl and a hearty pinch of salt.  Start slowly adding the pan and mixing forming it into dough.  The PAN will absorb the water.  The consistency you want from the dough is moist not dry.  If you begin forming patties and cracks appear, this means it is too dry.

ArepaDoughArepaMakingDSC_0233

If you’re a stickler for measurements, please refer to the back of the PAN bag.   Again, these directions are a recommendation.  It will vary based on the climate where you live.

Cooking Options: Bake or Fried

Baking Method:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place arepas on cookie sheet and cook for 20 minutes.  Flip halfway through.  They will be done when they appear to be golden brown and the “pop” when you spank them.   That’s right (Tip #3) give the arepa a lightly aggressive tap with your hand and if you hear a “hollow” sound, it’s done.

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Frying Method:  Put about 1 inch of canola oil in a small to medium pan and set the heat to medium on the stove.  Tip #4 – roll some PAN dough into a marble size ball and drop it in once the oil has had a chance to heat.  If it starts to fry immediately, you oil is ready.  Fry both sides of arepa until golden brown, remove and drain on paper towels.

DipticDiptic-1

* Anise is used for sweet arepas only.  Follow the same recipe, but add some anise to your desired taste.  When making these patties, they are much thinner than the savory arepas.  It’s recommended to poke a hole in the center during frying to avoid bubbles being formed.

Have you ever had an arepa before?  Share with me your favorite fillings or any other tips about cooking them perfectly.

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6 Comments

  1. cindyelkins says:

    I liked them both a lot! For the savory arepa, I like it baked. But for the sweet arepa, frying is only way to go. One thing about baking the arepas is that they can dry out a bit. I think if I were to do the savory arepas my way (not how I was taught) I would fry them lightly in some oil (not deep fry) to get a slightly golden outside on them then throw them in the oven to finish cooking on the inside. I haven’t tried this method so it could be disastrous, but logically it seems like it would work.

  2. Andrea Tibaduiza says:

    You should try Colombian Arepas!! Same PAN dough, but we cook them with cheese and a little butter and salt! Hmmm Delicious!!

  3. Pingback: Avocado Chicken Salad | Like Write on Rice

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