Today, to inaugurate this new project I decided to start with Colombian arepas. I was thinking a lot of what could be the main ingredient to represent my birth country, and without a doubt is the much adored arepa. So anyway, what in the world is an arepa? For us Colombians the arepa is an essential ingredient of every dish in our country. We eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, with eggs, butter, meat, bacon, as a side dish for soups, stews, beans, in short, we eat it daily and to many, if their plate does not come with the blessed arepa, they're not satisfied.
The arepa is a type of tortilla made from corn. The aborigines who inhabited what is now Colombia and Venezuela were the creators of this product, which even today is an integral part of our cuisine. But of course, back then they had to peel the cob, cook the corn, grind it, make the arepas and then cook them. In fact, I had the pleasure of watching my mom and my great aunt get up every day at 5 in the morning to make the arepas of the day, but I imagine that for them it was not as fun to get up so early in the day to make a whole bunch of arepas. Fortunately, today that corn meal is sold ready to knead and it comes not only already grinded, but also pre-cooked. What could be easier than that?
I cannot emphasize enough that the corn meal has to be made especially for... well, arepas! You're going to find all kinds of different brands and any of them will do as long as they are made especially for arepas. Don't use the Mexican flour that is used for tamales. Don't use regular yellow corn meal. And please, please, PLEASE, do not use pancake flour because then they wouldn't be arepas, they would be pancakes. And where do you find the corn meal? In most Latin grocery stores, almost guaranteed. You can also try to find it online.
In this video I will show you how I make arepas at home for my family. They're very easy and quick to make, and absolutely delicious. Each person has his or her own way of making them, many make them with just the corn meal and grill them on the stove, others use milk instead of water and others, like me, use cheese and butter so they can have a golden, delicious crust.
4-5 medium size arepas
1 cup (240 ml) warm water
½ tsp salt or to taste
1 cup (150 g) pre-cooked white corn meal
1 tbsp butter
1 cup (100 g) shredded mozarella cheese
1. Mix the water, salt, corn meal, butter and cheese in a bowl large enough to knead the dough.
2. Knead until all ingredients are mixed well and the dough has a soft consistency. If the dough is too dry, add a little bit more water. If it's too moist, add more corn meal.
3. Start forming balls the size of a medium orange and place them between two sheets of plastic. Flatten it with a rolling pin to your desire thickness.
4. Cut the dough through the top plastic sheet with a cereal bowl, glass, cookie cutter, etc. Take off the plastic, the excess dough and now you have a perfectly shaped arepa.
5. Cover a griddle with spray or stick butter. Turn on the stove to medium high and when the griddle is hot enough, add the arepas. You can also use a pan.
6. Grill for 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Serve immediately.
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