Arepas are a type of corn bread, which are a staple food in South America countries, mainly in Colombia and Venezuela.
These relatively small discs of flat bread, are also known in other Latin American countries by different names. There are many versions for this gluten-free bread, even in the same country. Some arepas are served flat, with toppings, others resemble a small pocket bread, and served with different filings, while others are stuffed before baking.
However, all these versions are made with Masarepa – a special pre-cooked corn meal, which is different than the one used for making tortillas.
I was mostly intrigued by the pocket type version, and was looking for a recipe for it. As this was the first time I’ve tried to make this special bread, I’ve found it difficult to decide on which recipe to relay on. While the recipe that was written on the package of flour I’ve bought, called for preparing the discs only in a griddle or pan; other recipes suggested an initial light frying of the discs, followed with baking in the oven, to make sure the bread is cooked inside.
I decided on the later, as it seemed the safest way to handle this bread for the first time.
The preparation was quite simple and easy, and the result was very pleasing. The discs had a nice crust, were soft inside, and were easy to open into a pocket.
The bread can be served as is, or with different fillings. For a vegetarian option, I used plain crumbled white cheese (queso fresco) in some, for a vegan option I’ve used avocado and grilled red pepper, and for the rest I’ve used a combination of grilled chicken, cheese and avocado. All the options were delicious. Try them and enjoy.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Frying/baking time: 20 minutes
2½ cups warm water
1 tsp salt
2 cups P.A.N. white corn meal for Arepas
1-2 Tbs oil
- Preheat the oven to 380F (195C). Line a baking sheet pan with baking paper.
- Pour the water into a large bowl. Add the salt and mix to dissolve.
- Gradually, add the arepa flour, and mix to a thick dough. Knead briefly, to form a ball, and let the dough rest for 5 minutes
- Divide the dough into 9 large balls and flatten them, with the palm of your hand, to a 4” (10cm) round and 0.4” (1cm) thick discs.
- Brush with oil, and fry lightly on both sides. Transfer to the lined pan, in one layer, and bake for 15 minutes, flipping twice.
- Let cool a bit, before cutting around one side, to create a pocket. Add any filling, according to your taste, and serve.