AREPAS – A Central American Favorite

arepas textI’ve been on a mission to try making foods from scratch that you would normally never think of, such as tortillas (flour and corn), Italian rustic bread, yogurt, cream cheese, and pasta. I think you get the idea.

But all the aforementioned foods have been homemade for centuries, and without the aid of modern kitchen conveniences.  How hard could it be? So far – not very. Yes, it takes more time than buying ready-made, but at what price? When I cook, I know what’s in my food. Plus, the price mark-up is incredible. Did I mention that I’m cheap?

Arepas are cornmeal flat, round bread patties (like an English muffin) that are slit open and stuffed with whatever you like. I’ve included a recipe for my favorite filling. You can even spread them with jam or honey. Use your imagination. They are amazingly easy it make – even kids (with very clean hands) can prepare the dough.

NOTE: The most common masarepas is PAN Harina. Below is a photo of what I bought. PAN is a brand, but others make it, too. You may need to go to a specialty store for hispanic foods (I had to). PAN Harina is NOT the same as masa harina, which is used for corn tortillas.

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TIP:  Store masarepas, and all extra flours & grains, in the freezer until use to prevent bugs and keep them fresh. Bring to room temperature before using.

AREPAS – makes 6

  • 2 cups (310g / 10 6/8 oz) masarepas
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • about 2½ cups  (650 ml) water
  • about 1/4 cup (60 ml) vegetable oil

Put the masarepas, salt, and baking powder is a bowl. Use your dominant hand to mix it. (Yes, you’re going to mix the dough with your hand – it’s the easiest way.) With your non-dominant hand, pour in about 1 cup of the water. Slowly squish the mixture until water is absorbed. Add another cup of water and slowly squish. (If you squish quickly, the water squirts and makes a mess.) The end result should be a soft dough (softer than Playdoh), but not so soft that it sticks to your hand and won’t stay formed. Add more water, if needed…or more masarepas, if you’ve added too much.

Divide dough into 6 equal pieces. Shape each into a patty 4″ in diameter and about 1/2″ thick.

Preheat oven to 400º Fahrenheit.

Have ready a wire rack sitting on a cookie sheet.

Over medium flame, heat 2 T oil in a 10″ skillet, or 4 T oil in a bigger skillet. When oil is hot, place in as many discs that will fit. When bottom is browned (about 3 minutes), flip cooking again until browned. Place on wire rack. Add more oil to skillet with each batch.

When all arepas are fried, place cookie sheet into oven for 10 minutes. Remove and cool until you can slice them in half without burning yourself.

BLACK BEAN & RICE FILLING – makes about 2 cups

  • 1 cup cooked black beans, mashed
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice (I use Brown Rice Medley from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 cup SALSA VERDE
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup avocado, mashed
  • 1/2 cup jalapeño jack cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1  2.25 oz can jalapeño sliced black olives

Blend all ingredients together.


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