Arepas: Tradition and Adventure in One Simple Sandwich

Arepas have been a staple in Venezuelan homes for centuries. Easy and quick to make, these corn cakes can be eaten any time of day, by themselves or with llings, on the go or around the dinner table. You can bake them, fry them, or grill them, and what you stuff them with is only limited to your imagination.

Like pitas, matzo, or biscuits, the corn cakes have only a few ingredients and are quick and easy to prepare. You can make large batches and store them in the freezer or fridge, but they’re best when served fresh and warm.

Fried Arepas

(makes 8 arepas)

2 1⁄2 cups lukewarm water
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups precooked corn meal (like P.A.N.®) 1⁄4 cup oil for frying

Mix together the water and salt in a bowl. Gradually stir in the corn meal and mix with your hands until dough is soft and malleable. Divide the dough into 8 balls, slightly larger than the size of a golf ball, then pat each into a 3/8” thick patty.

Heat oil in a skillet and cook patties 4-5 minutes per side until golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to cool (but not too long).

To serve, slice through each cake horizontally and stuff with your favorite ingredients, or just add butter and enjoy.

So what do you put in an arepa?

Short answer: whatever you want! For breakfast, make a ham, egg, and cheese sandwich, or try shredded chicken, cheese, avocado, and tomato for a delicious lunch. You can even sweeten up your day with dessert arepas – ll them with peaches or plantains, or berries and whipped cream.

DIY Arepas Bar

If you’re tired of making the same old thing for get-togethers and birthday parties, create an arepas bar. Set up serving dishes full of meats, cheeses, veggies, and condiments on a long table or kitchen island and let your guests put together the arepas of their dreams. Use a countertop griddle to keep the fresh and hot corn cakes coming.

Meats: Shredded chicken, shredded beef, pulled pork, shrimp, crab, lobster, sausage, chicken salad, tuna salad

Cheeses: Cheddar, mozzarella, pepper Jack, feta, Gouda, Brie, and don’t forget the traditional Venezuelan Guayanés

Veggies: Tomatoes, peppers, onion, roasted red peppers, sun dried tomatoes, spinach, corn, black beans, avocado, roasted corn, jalapeños, plantains, black beans

Sauces and toppers: Pico de gallo, guacamole or guasacaca, queso, basil, cilantro, parsley, chopped bacon, green onions, mojo

As you can see, traditional doesn’t have to mean ‘boring.’ The simplicity of the arepa is its magic – you can transform them into unique creations that will spark your creativity and ll your belly with some Venezuelan love. If you want more inspiration, come visit us at Saman Arepas, where we serve the Best Arepas in Town and love introducing Venezuelan cuisine to foodies everywhere.