How To: Venezuelan Arepas

Ah, the Venezuelan arepas. It all started hundreds of years ago when the indigenous tribes of Venezuela cooked dried corn, mashed it, and then let it dry into the flour used to make arepas. The traditional meal got its name from the indigenous word for corn, erape.

They’re basically the go-to breakfast (or dinner) in a Venezuelan household, but don’t worry, it’s not that easy to get tired of them since you can stuff them with anything, literally anything! But that’s to your discretion. Following, I will be explaining the art of making arepas.

Basic ingredients you will need are:

  • Harina PAN (arepa flour) 
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Oil
  • Nonstick skillet
  • Desired fillings (could be as simple as butter, cheese, and ham or classic Venezuelan fillings such as the “Reina Pepiada” which is shredded chicken, mayo, and avocado)

 

Preparation

  1. Mix into a bowl arepa flour and water just so the flour is damp.

  2. Next, add a pinch of salt (literally a pinch) and mix the flour, water, and salt by hand.

  3. After a bit of mixing, create balls of the dough mix (make sure there are no “cracks”, make the balls as round and smooth as possible!).

  4. Then, clap your hands together in order to flatten the ball down to the arepa shape.

  5. Next, make sure the skillet is warm and spread oil on top so the arepas don’t stick.

  6. Then set the arepas on the skillet and turn in 6-8 minutes (or until they are golden on one side). Repeat for each side.

  7. Golden tip: if your arepas are really thin and you would like an extra crunch, drop them in the toaster for a couple of minutes.

  8. Open them up, fill them with your favorite filling and enjoy

Nowadays, there are forms of the arepa that can easily be incorporated in the new generation’s healthy eating programs and diets. A modern approach is to mix the arepa mix of the flour, water, and salt with oatmeal in order to add fiber to the meal as well as for the arepas to continue being a part of people’s lifestyle no matter their eating habits. I for sure would never want to take arepas out of my diet!

Following are some photos of arepas made by my own Venezuelan mother:

Here we have an arepa with what we call in Venezuela perico. It consists of scrambled eggs, tomato, and onions! A great and simple filling for arepas, specially with avocado on the side… so yummy and modern!

And here is the filling mentioned before which goes by the name of Reina Pepiada. Again, it is a mixture of shredded chicken, mayonnaise, and avocado!

Lastly, here is an example of the oatmeal arepas! Again, you can stuff them with anything. In this specific picture, the arepa is accompanied by a sunny side up egg and avocado pieces!