A South American Experience
I am excited to present to you something very new (at least it was new to me) and extremely tasty- a South-American staple food, the fundamental base of the Venezuelan diet- the AREPA. Arepas are generally made with a pre-cooked corn flour (Harina P.A.N), water and salt.
AREPAS can be prepared for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. depending on the region of the country where it is prepared, the arepa varies in cooking technique, main ingredient, color and filling.
Having said that the main ingredient of areas is corn, the most common and internationally recognized brand of Venezuelan pre-cooked white corn meal is the P.A.N. brand. It might be difficult to find, because I could not see it in any supermarket. Instead, I used instant Masa Harina. To make Masa Harina, the corn kernels are removed from the cobs, dried, then are soaked in water with lime (the chemical) or lye until the skins on the kernels loosen and can be easily removed. The kernels are then mashed, dried, and ground into flour.
The Venezuelan AREPAS has its origins hundreds of years ago; cooked by the various indigenous tribes across the areas that is now Venezuela and Colombia.
I completely understand that the AREPAS has been the main staple of the South American diet. Mine were so easy to prepare and s delicious that I could eat them for morning, lunch and dinner. No kidding. I even found some recipes for sweet areas, which I have yet to try out.
HOW TO MAKE AREPAS– fairly simple process, takes about 10 minutes:
- Add 2 cups Instant Masa Harina to a bowl and mix with 1 tsp of salt.
- Add 2 cups filtered warm water.
- Knead together the flour and water with one hand (keep one hand clean to add more flour or water if needed) until the mixture is thoroughly blended. Don’t overwork the dough. Stop as soon as the dough is free of any lumps.
- If the dough sticks to your fingers add a little more flour. If it is too dry add a tiny bit of water. The perfect dough should roll easily into a large ball without cracking.
- Take a small fistful of dough and roll it into a ball. Flatten it out so it looks like a flyer saucer. No cracks should appear on the outside (if so, add a bit of water). Neither should the saucer stick to your hand (add flour).
- Preheat the oven to 375F (170C) and heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add a tiny bit of olive oil if needed. Fry AREPAS on both sides until golden brown. Transfer them to the oven and bake for about 15 minutes until they sound hollow when you tap them with a spatula.
- Remove them from the oven, let them cool off a bit, then slice them in half. Fill with your favorite filling and enjoy right away.
- Leftovers can be warmed up the next day but they sure best when they are fresh out of the oven.
If any dough is left over wrap it in plastic – to keep in the moisture – and place in fridge. It will keep for three to four days.
Here is the link to the recipe: http://plantbasedhappy.com/?page_id=6678
We filled our hot AREPAS with guacamole and black beans. nect time, I’ll use homemade plain plant-based cream cheese and top it with avocados, lime and black pepper. Can’t wait to make them again…
By the way, I’ve added a new item to my shop- reusable, eco-friendly straws. Check them out! great for smoothies and juices.