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Kitchen Basics: How to Make Arepas

By Thecookspyjamas @thecookspyjamas
Kitchen Basics: How to Make Arepas

We have had the luxury of a small hawker's markets operating in a nearby local park over the summer months. Most Friday evenings we would stroll down and select dinner from the various cuisines on offer. After working my way through Indian, South East Asian and Turkish, I one day found myself in front of the Venezuelan van ordering the arepa stuffed with shredded beef and black beans. The juice from the beef soaked into the fluffy corn, and the whole combination was utterly delicious. Unfortunately arepas cannot just be bought off the shelf, so to recreate this meal at home I have had to learn how to make arepas at home.

Arepas are a small corn flatbread; a staple in Venezuelan and Colombian cuisine. Usually served stuffed with filling, arepas can be eaten at any time of the day. They are made from pre-cooked corn flour known as masarepa, which is not to be confused with masa harina, the lime-treated ground corn used to make tortillas. The most widely available brand of masarepa in Australia is Harina PAN. I have seen both the white and yellow varieties available for sale in my local Italian grocer, and it is becoming far easier to find in specialty stores.

Kitchen Basics: How to Make Arepas

Arepas can be grilled, fried, steamed or cooked in the oven, and are best served freshly cooked, split as soon as possible to preserve the fluffy centre. I have found that if allowed to cool, or if reheated, they become significantly denser. Even though arepas need to be freshly cooked, and do not take that long to make, you can still prepare them in advance in order to whip them up whenever a craving hits.

Freshly mixed arepa dough can be stored in the fridge for up to three days. I prefer to shape the arepas first, then store them on a flat tray until I wish to cook them. I have also had success freezing the shaped arepas, then either cooking straight from frozen or allowing them to defrost overnight in the fridge.

Kitchen Basics: How to Make Arepas

Arepas make a great gluten free option, and a nice change from the traditional loaf. The crunchy outside and the fluffy inside pair well with a variety of fillings. With shredded beef and piles of arepas in the freezer, and jars of beans in the pantry, I now have the makings of a quick and delicious meal with minimal effort.

Kitchen Basics: How to Make Arepas

Kitchen Basics: How to Make Arepas

Author: Tania @ The Cook's Pyjamas

  • 2 cups (228g) Masarepa {pre-cooked corn flour}
  • 2 cups (500g) warm water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  1. Place the masarepa and salt into a large bowl. Stir to mix.
  2. Drizzle over the olive oil.
  3. Add the warm water and mix to form a soft dough.
  4. Cover with a clean cloth and set aside to rest for 15 minutes.
  5. Divide the dough into 8 - 10 balls.
  6. Take a dough ball and pat it out into a 10 cm wide round. The finished round should be about 1.5cm thick. I find it easiest to do this by placing the dough onto a small cutting board and patting it into shape.
  7. Repeat with the remaining balls.
  8. You can freeze the arepas at this point, or store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  1. Preheat the oven to 195C (175C fan forced)
  2. Preheat a heavy fry pan or grill plate over medium heat.
  3. Place the arepas on the preheated fry pan and allow to sit or 3 - 4 minutes.
  4. The arepas are ready to turn when the base has turned a slightly darker colour, small brown patches are visible across the surface, and they lift easily from the surface of the fry pan.
  5. Flip the arepas and cook for a further 3-4 minutes.
  6. Place the browned arepas on a lined baking tray, and bake in the oven for 15 - 20 minutes, or until they sound hollow when tapped.
  7. Remove from the oven, and split with a small serrated knife, leaving a 'hinge' at the base of the arepa to contain the filling.
  8. Enjoy whilst hot.

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