The Frugal Café | Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup"</a> | Creative Commons License, Flickr.com
Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup" | Creative Commons License, Flickr.com

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Recipes for Awesome Arepas... Venezuelan Corn Cakes

By Vicki McClure Davidson

 

If you've not eaten arepas (pronounced ah-RAY-poss) before, you don't know what you're missing. Easy-easy-easy to make, economical, and absolutely delicious.

Cheesy arepas | Photo credit: TRY-FOODS INTERNATIONAL

 

Cheesy arepas | Photo credit: TRY-FOODS INTERNATIONAL
Quite simply, an arepa is an unleavened bread made of corn. They are popular in Venezuela and Columbia, and thankfully, they are gaining popularity here in the United States. Kids love them, as they are similar to pancakes, but can be eaten with the hands. An arepa can be sliced through the middle like bread and layers of cheese and other delicacies can be added to it to make a corn cake sandwich, or several can accompany a dinner of rice and beans, stew, soup, or a chef's salad for a complete, thrifty meal. In Columbia, chorizo or scrambled eggs often top them.

Pre-made arepa flour is usually made from white corn, but there are yellow corn varieties available. The resulting cake can range from 3 to 8 inches in diameter, depending on the cook's preference.

There are a number of ways to make these lovely corn cakes, so I've included one text recipe and three video demos. They have many similarities in ingredients and a few significant differences. A few of the techniques also differ, but the end result is the same — delicious arepas. Make the recipe that appeals the most to you. In Venezuela, there are a number of variations and fillings, depending on personal taste and the occasion for which the arepas are being made. Some fillings include cheese, coconut, chicken, crisped pork skin, black beans, quail eggs, and shark. Arepas are perfect as party appetizers, since they don't require a fork to be eaten.

 

Cheesy Arepas

Place corn and hot water in a blender; blend until smooth. Pour into large bowl.

Add cornmeal, sour cream, sugar, and cheese,; mix well to form dough. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the dough (about 18 pieces) onto a wax-paper-lined baking sheet.

Roll each piece into a ball and flatten it into a circle about 1//4-inch thick and 3 inches in diameter. Gently press around sides to eliminate cracks.

Melt butter in a medium skillet over low heat. Add dough circle (in batches, if necessary) and cook 3 to 5 minutes per side or until golden and toasted on the outside but soft in the middle. Let cool to room temperature.

Serves 9 - 18 (1 or 2 per person).

 

Simply Deliciosa: Yellow Corn Arepas

 

Food Network, Bobby Flay: Arepas

 

FoodWishes: Arepas Recipe and Technique - Venezuelan Sandwiches

 

 

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Sources:
TRY-FOOD INTERNATIONAL, "Cheesy Arepas," Apopka, FL.
Wikipedia.org, Arepa, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arepa).