Arepas

Arepas with Florida Sweet Corn & Guacamole

Arepas are a staple in Venezuelan and Colombian cuisine.  They are sold as a popular street food, and have many different variations, depending on the region where they are from.

I like to think of them as a taco in a different type of tortilla.  I love the shells, as they are very crispy on the outside, and soft in the center.  They can be filled with anything…don’t just limit yourself to thinking about Latin flavors…Think Asian, Middle Eastern, Indian, etc.

The flour is different from the flour you buy to make tortillas.  Arepa flour is cooked first in water, and then dried.  The brand that I like to use is Harina PAN, and I find it in the ethnic food aisle at my local Publix.  If you have access to Latin Markets, they should carry it as well.  Just be sure to read the label carefully, and make sure that it is the right flour (Harina) for making arepas (it can be confusing).  If you are in doubt ask, as most store owners are enthusiastic about helping people learn more about the products that they sell.  Don’t be shy about asking.  As a guy that is worked as a chef for over 30 years, I ask tons of questions…how else are you going to learn!

Arepas

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Makes 4 servings

2 Cups, Precooked White Cornmeal (I use P.A.N. brand)
1 tsp., Kosher Salt
2 Cups, Water

2 Each, Green Plantains (Garnish)

1/2 Cup, Ajvar (See recipe in this blog)
1 Cup, Florida Sweet Corn Salad (See recipe in this blog)
1 Cup, Guacamole (See recipe in this blog)
1 Cup, Quesadilla Cheese, Shredded (Can substitute Monterey Jack)
1 Cup, Arugula

Method:

  • Preheat fryer, or hot oil to 350℉
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal, kosher salt and water
  • Mix well using your hands
  • Cover, and allow dough to rest for 30 minutes
  • Divide the dough into 4 equal portions
  • Form into “hockey pucks” about 1” thick
  • Fry until a light golden brown, drain on a towel
  • Cut in half, scoop a hole on each half of the arepa, leaving about ¼” of dough
  • Cut the ends off of the plantains, and make a slit lengthwise through the skin, but not into the plantain
  • Soak in hot tap water for 30 minutes (as hot as you can get it out of the tap
  • Peel the plantains…sometimes it is helpful to use a towel to aid in the process
  • Using a mandoline, or slicer, slice the plantains lengthwise ⅟₁₆” thick
  • Fry in oil until most of the bubbling has stopped…plantains may still be a little soft, but they will get crispy.  Do not try to fry to many at a time, as they will have a tendency to stick together
  • Place in a bowl lined with a paper towel to absorb the oil
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • Divide the remaining ingredients between the arepa shells, and garnish with the plantains

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