This Colombian snack food consists of a cornmeal patty cooked in a frying pan and served simply with butter and salt or with any number of fillings. Split the arepas open and fill with avocado, cheese, tomato, meat, fried chicken, beans or salsa. Or try the "arepa pizza" where chorizo, cheese and spicy chicken or beef strips are used as a topping rather than a filling. In northern Colombia, fried egg arepas are a favourite – the egg is fried into the patty. Arepas are also a good accompaniment to main meals.
- 1 kg dried snow corn (white corn), soaked overnight
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp salt
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
You will need to begin this recipe 1 day ahead.
Drain the corn and cook in boiling water for 1 hour or until al dente. Drain and place in a food processor with the butter and salt. Grind as finely as possible. Transfer to a work surface and knead for a few minutes until the dough is smooth without any lumps.
Take balls of dough weighing around 120 g each and flatten with a rolling pin to patties 5 mm–1 cm thick.
Heat a non-stick frying pan or barbecue (without any oil or butter) and cook the arepas for 5 minutes on one side, then 3 minutes on the other (the arepas are ready to be turned when you can slide them around).
In Colombia, there are many different toppings for the arepa; butter and salt, cheese. and in recent times "arepa pizza" with chorizo, cheese and meat as a topping.
Arepa fillings (when the arepa becomes a main course)
Between two arepas layer a generous mix of fried chicken, onion and tomatoes with aji (a Colombian sauce with tomatoes, onion, lime and a pinch of salt). Other fillings could be meat, cheese, sofrito sauce and avocado. In northern Colombia fried egg is a favourite, where the egg is actually fried into the arepa.