Whether you’ve never heard of arepas or people have told you a lot about them and you’re dying to try them, we can’t deny this meal is a real emblen of a whole country.
Venezuelan arepas are a real delight that everybody should try at least once in their lifetime.
The combination of cornmeal flour made from authentic South American corn, mixed with just the right tinge of saltiness, make up for one of the best exotic snacks you could get your hands on.
If you want to learn exactly what arepas are, where do they come from, how to differentiate arepas Venezolanas from Colombian arepas, and how to make arepas, this article is for you.
Not only do we want to share with you the goodness that are Venezuelan arepas, we also want you to have a real interest in making them on your own so you can try them for the first time!
Arepas are like thick, salty pancakes made of pre-cooked corn flour that usually people split over in half and can be stuffed with all sorts of fillings such as braised meat or cheese to form a sandwich.
These corn patties are very popular all throughout Latin America, but they’re particularly popular among Venezuelans and Colombians.
Since pre-Colombian times, villagers made arepas as one of their main dishes all around the Andean mountain region that is now Venezuela.
These people were known as expert farmers that had better irrigation techniques which resulted in better crops.
Back in the days, arepas venezolanas were made with ground corn shaped like a small cake, thoroughly cooked in a large pan called aripo -an instrument that suggests this is where the food takes its name.
When the Spanish came, they really liked arepas and took the recipe with them as they started to move south into the continent, spreading this recipe to other countries.
As we mentioned the two main countries that make arepas are Venezuela and Colombia, and while they’re basically the same, they do have some main differences.
We could say that the main difference between arepas venezolanas and Colombian arepas are the ingredients that conform them.
Venezuelan arepas can come with dozens of fillings and options, whereas the Colombian arepa is usually stuffed only with fresh cheese or scrambled eggs.
Sure, the fact that this recipe is about 3,000 years old is what makes it so diverse, especially among different countries.
In fact, Colombia has about 55 different types of arepas, while Venezuela has somewhat close to 40.
Another great and main ingredient between these 2 types of arepas in the shape. Colombian arepas are thinner and sweeter than arepas venezolanas.
In Venezuela, arepas are usually split in half and stuffed with different ingredients, but if by some reason you were to add more ingredients to a Colombian arepa, it would be on top of it instead of inside.
To make arepas you need very few and easy-to-get ingredients: arepa flour (also known as pre-cooked corn flour), salt, warm water and vegetable oil.
To prepare arepas venezolanas, start by mixing arepa flour and salt.
Slowly add lukewarm water to the flour mix and start kneading in order to form a soft and Dewey dough.
Let the dough rest for about 5 minutes so it hydrates correctly.
Divide the dough into 8 round pieces while rolling it into small balls using the palms of your hands.
Flatten the dough in order to shape a disk that’s about ½ inch thick.
Pour some vegetable oil on a medium iron skillet over high heat and add the arepas and cook for about 5 minutes on each side until they turn golden brown.
Once you follow your arepas recipe, use a knife to cut them down the center, leaving the back ends attached to form a little pouch.
Stuff your steamy arepas with food like black beans, plantains, carnitas, guacamole, scrambled eggs or just pour some cheese inside.
If you’re going to give your first steps in the kitchen and try to make arepas Venezolanas for the first time, here’s something you need to know about the flour used to cook them.
Masa harina is basically white corn flour made from corn that undergoes a procedure called nixtamalized- which means it has been soaked and treated with slaked lime in order to remove the corn husks.
Nixtamalized flour has a slightly different flavor than regular corn flour or masa harina.
The last one, for example, is used to cook tortillas, tamales, atole, enchiladas or other baked goods; but not for arepas.
Sometimes it might be hard or nearly impossible to find arepas near me, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your hands a little dirty in the kitchen and cook your own version.
Get to know up close what arepas taste like and give them your personal touch.