Arepas are a patty-like food made from ground corn flour and mixed with warm water. They’re most popular in Colombia and Venezuela. I like them filled with cheese and served for breakfast with huevos pericos and avocado.
These were sorta sometimes my breakfast as a kid.
My mom isn’t Colombian so this wasn’t something she made for us. Instead, it was something that my dad’s aunt taught me how to make. But since I was a lazy teenager, I never wanted to make them. I’d drive to this little Colombian restaurant near my house where they sold them frozen in batches of twelve. I’d just heat them up in oven and boom…breakfast, lunch, a snack.
This and a Colombiana (a bright orange soda) were always my favorite after-school combination. In fact, all of my friends–none who were Colombian or even Latino–would come with me to the Colombian restaurant them with me.
Arepas are made with PAN, which is essentially a finer MASA. It’s considered more like corn flour than corn meal.
They couldn’t be simpler. Once the corn flour is mixed with a combination of warm water, butter, shredded cheese and salt, it’s ready.
A lot of these types of recipes are by feel. My tia never really gave me a recipe, she just taught me basic measurements and more about how things should feel and take shape. Latinos are fun like that!
How to Make Arepas
- I like to dissolve the salt into the warm water. This is a new way of making it to be honest. I used to just whisk the salt into the corn flour (you can do that too!)
- Next, I like to mix in the corn flour and when it comes together I knead it with my hands.
- Then, I add in the softened butter and mix that until combined. After that I add in the shredded mozzarella.
- When it’s a cohesive ball, I separate the dough into 10 balls of dough. You can weigh the dough balls (they’ll be about 65 grams each).
- Grease a non-stick skillet with a bit of oil or butter over medium-heat. When the skillet is warm, add the arepas to the pan. You can put them pretty close together since they won’t spread. Cook on each side for about 2-3 minutes, until lightly golden brown.
- This step is optional but I like to cut them open and then add a bit more cheese. And then return them it to the skillet until the cheese has melted.
Tips and Tricks
- Recipes like this are about touch and feel. But these measurements should give you something that’s pretty accurate. You’re welcome to add a teeny bit more butter to make them richer. Or even cook them in butter. I would just be sure to wipe the skillet clean after each use because the butter can tend to burn.
- You can find masarepa at any Latin grocery store. The most popular brand is P.A.N. I use the white corn but they also have it in yellow corn.
- 1 teaspoon tablespoon kosher salt (15g)
- 1 2/3 warm water (380ml)
- 250 grams masarepa flour
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/4 cup finely shredded mozzarella cheese
- 3 ounces sliced mozzarella sliced
- In a medium bowl, mix together the salt and warm water until the salt dissolves. Add the masarepa flour and mix with a spoon until mostly combined. Then knead the dough until it comes together in a mass. Add in the softened butter and knead again. Lastly, mix in the shredded mozzarella cheese.
- Separate the dough into balls and form them into patties using your palms. It should be about 1/2-inch thick and a 3-inch diameter. Brush a cast iron skillet or non-stick skillet with a bit of butter or avocado oil and place over medium heat.
- When warm, add the arepas to the pan and cook on each side for about 4 to 5 minutes, until lightly golden brown. Remove from heat and slice open. Add slice of cheese to the inside and return to the skillet until cheese has melted.