Arepas (recipe)

Arepas

Earlier this year when my mother was diagnosed with severe gluten-related allergies it came as a surprise to her, and us. We never realized such an allergy could rear its head so late in a person’s life. After seeing what she went through physically in the weeks it took to diagnose we have all gone the extra step to make sure that gluten-free dishes and snacks are on hand. This being Trinidad many alternatives that are used by those in food blogosphere are hard to find, or when found astronomically expensive. Some items however are plentiful. These include cornmeal, cornflour, and cassava – items which have become staples in my ‘gluten-free’ alternatives to the breads and pastas she once loved and devoured.

One dish which she really enjoys is my homemade arepas. We make them in a large batch and freeze the bulk for her to defrost at her own leisure.

I first had unfilled arepas on my trips to Caracas, Venezuala in the late 80s. And the memory of them hot and filled with butter, and other fillings was something that definitely stayed with me. Arepas in the larger parlance of the Southern English speaking Caribbean usually refers to a meat filled cornmeal patty, quite similar to beef empanadas. I’ll make those at a later date but for now it’s the Venezualan version that I’m concentrating on. As more and more South American settle in Trinidad, authentic eateries have popped up allowing the local populace to partake in an indulgence that one had to leave the island for in the past.

Although the arepas in Venezuala I had were made with white corn flour, yellow cornflour is much more readily found here, and that is what I used. The differences as far as I can tell are nominal taste-wise.

I’ve noticed a lot of attempts at arepas in the food blogosphere, prompted in no small part by a post made by Gluten-Free Girl. Many of the results appeared to be drier and flatter than what I am used to so I hope that my step by step pictorial will help somewhat in being able to gauge the consistency of the dough and such :)

I love eating arepas when they are piping hot. I slather them with butter, and then add any type of filling that I like. The flavour of an arepa is mild so the addition of salt, and the crusting of the exterior are vital to bring out the subtle corn flavour. In the photo above I filled the arepa with thin slices of mozzarella, fresh tomato and basil leaves. Yum!

This post has been submitted to the Baking Sheets challenge, hosted by Joelen’s Culinary Adventures

Arepas
Makes 6

2 cups masa flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups boiling water
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Method

1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the cornmeal and salt.
3. Pour in boiling water and mix with a wooden spoon to form a mass.
4. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and set aside to rest for 5-10 minutes.
5. Using damp hands form the ‘dough’ into 6 balls of equal size.

6. Shape and form into cakes about 3 inches wide and 3/4 inch thick (if the dough cracks at the edges, wet your hands and reform)

7. Heat the oil in a sauté pan or skillet over medium-high heat.
8. Sauté the patties, a few at a time, to form a light brown crust on one side, 5-6 minutes.
9. Flip and brown on the other side.

10. When all the patties have been browned, transfer them to a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until they sound lightly hollow when tapped.
11. Serve immediately.

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About 

Passionate foodie, founder of Trinigourmet and Caribbean Lifestyle Maven. Author of "Glam By Request: 30+ Easy Caribbean Recipes"

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  • http://savory.tv Heidi / Savory Tv

    It’s amazing how many people are having problems with gluten, isn’t it?

    I’ve not heard of these before, and have only used Masa flour for traditional Mexican recipes, thank you for sharing yours. They look deliciously crispy in the photos and perfect with cheese, will absolutely attempt this after the holidays!

    Heidi / Savory Tv’s last blog post..Bacon madness and bacon wrapped shrimp!

    • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

      Thanks for passing by Heidi :) They are fun to stuff with different combos, whatever strikes ur fancy :)

  • http://savory.tv Heidi / Savory Tv

    It’s amazing how many people are having problems with gluten, isn’t it?

    I’ve not heard of these before, and have only used Masa flour for traditional Mexican recipes, thank you for sharing yours. They look deliciously crispy in the photos and perfect with cheese, will absolutely attempt this after the holidays!

    Heidi / Savory Tv’s last blog post..Bacon madness and bacon wrapped shrimp!

    • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

      Thanks for passing by Heidi :) They are fun to stuff with different combos, whatever strikes ur fancy :)

  • http://www.theperfectpantry.com Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

    Great tutorial — I fell in love with arepas on a visit to Caracas many years ago, and have loved them ever since — but never tried to make my own. Now I’ll go for it! Happy new year to you.

    Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)’s last blog post..Dried mushrooms (Recipe: mushroom soup a la Fred)

  • http://www.theperfectpantry.com Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

    Great tutorial — I fell in love with arepas on a visit to Caracas many years ago, and have loved them ever since — but never tried to make my own. Now I’ll go for it! Happy new year to you.

    Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)’s last blog post..Dried mushrooms (Recipe: mushroom soup a la Fred)

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    Lydia – I fell in love with them in Caracas too :D They sustained me, they were so cheap and dripping with butter :D :D Happy New Year to you too :D

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    Lydia – I fell in love with them in Caracas too :D They sustained me, they were so cheap and dripping with butter :D :D Happy New Year to you too :D

  • Keva

    These arepas look tastey! I first heard about them on the Food Network earlier this year when an arepa bar in New York was featured on the network. :)

  • Keva

    These arepas look tastey! I first heard about them on the Food Network earlier this year when an arepa bar in New York was featured on the network. :)

  • Melanie

    Muy delicioso!! I want a dozen…
    Happy New Year Sarina
    Love,
    Melanie

    • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

      :D Happy New Year Melanie :D

  • Melanie

    Muy delicioso!! I want a dozen…
    Happy New Year Sarina
    Love,
    Melanie

    • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

      :D Happy New Year Melanie :D

  • Jaz Borden

    I falin’ lolz!!! Happy New Year!

  • Jaz Borden

    I falin’ lolz!!! Happy New Year!

  • http://www.GlutenFreeFox.com Kristen

    Hi Sarina!

    These look absolutely amazing! I was diagnosed as severely gluten intolerant a year ago at age 29. It definitely takes a little more preparation and thought to stick to an exclusively gluten-free diet, but any recipes and advice that people are willing to put in writing and share online helps largely.

    My boyfriend and I built a gluten-free search engine, GlutenFreeFox.com to help spread awareness and make it easier to find gluten free recipes. I have added your site and this recipe to the search engine, I know that so many people will appreciate your gorgeous recipes!

    Take care,
    Kristen
    co-founder
    GlutenFreeFox.com

    • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

      Thanks for the kind words Kristen. That is a wonderful site that you have there. Will visit it regularly as my mom and I are still discovering and trying to expand our gluten-free repertoire :)

  • http://www.GlutenFreeFox.com Kristen

    Hi Sarina!

    These look absolutely amazing! I was diagnosed as severely gluten intolerant a year ago at age 29. It definitely takes a little more preparation and thought to stick to an exclusively gluten-free diet, but any recipes and advice that people are willing to put in writing and share online helps largely.

    My boyfriend and I built a gluten-free search engine, GlutenFreeFox.com to help spread awareness and make it easier to find gluten free recipes. I have added your site and this recipe to the search engine, I know that so many people will appreciate your gorgeous recipes!

    Take care,
    Kristen
    co-founder
    GlutenFreeFox.com

    • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

      Thanks for the kind words Kristen. That is a wonderful site that you have there. Will visit it regularly as my mom and I are still discovering and trying to expand our gluten-free repertoire :)

  • Shirley McCudden

    I am not sure I filled your form out right, but am excited to find your web site. My sister and I are wanting to try our hand at making arepas. I learned 40 years ago to make tortillas, but had never heard of these. I was glad to see they are gluten free for I have a great grandson that is on gluten free diet so will forward to his Mom. Will let you know how they turn out. Shirley

  • Shirley McCudden

    I am not sure I filled your form out right, but am excited to find your web site. My sister and I are wanting to try our hand at making arepas. I learned 40 years ago to make tortillas, but had never heard of these. I was glad to see they are gluten free for I have a great grandson that is on gluten free diet so will forward to his Mom. Will let you know how they turn out. Shirley

  • david

    Sarina, I too discovered arepas in venezeula and make them occasionally heren in ny. Your recipe sounds much the same except (and I was told this is important) when baking in the oven to not use a pan but put them directly on the oven rack and they are done when the lines appear on the arepas,don’t really know if this makes a difference but the family i stayed with taught me this way and they always come out like the ones I had there, delicious. We usually fill with any leftovers from the night before’s supper. I didn’t even know they were gluten free! happy cooking, David

  • david

    Sarina, I too discovered arepas in venezeula and make them occasionally heren in ny. Your recipe sounds much the same except (and I was told this is important) when baking in the oven to not use a pan but put them directly on the oven rack and they are done when the lines appear on the arepas,don’t really know if this makes a difference but the family i stayed with taught me this way and they always come out like the ones I had there, delicious. We usually fill with any leftovers from the night before’s supper. I didn’t even know they were gluten free! happy cooking, David

  • Sebastian

    dog i love colombian arepas, and this venezuelan stuff is even better. or equally awesome? i dunno, this is a great post and i hope u do post that empoanada recipe

  • Sebastian

    dog i love colombian arepas, and this venezuelan stuff is even better. or equally awesome? i dunno, this is a great post and i hope u do post that empoanada recipe