I have never eaten an authentic arepa, but after reading an article about them my interest was piqued. I learned that the corn flour from which arepas are made is not the same as masa harina used to make corn tortillas. Masa harina is corn flour treated with lime, wheres the corn flour used to make arepas has been precooked.
The next time I went to the store I looked for and found some masarepa (harina precocida). I was somewhat disappointed that it was made from white corn but purchased it anyway. I have since obtained the yellow stuff, but my first attempt at making arepas was with the white variety. They were a raging success and are now my new favorite food!
To make the dough I added a little salt to the masarepa and mixed in a little more than an equal amount of warm water plus a bit of olive oil. Using a flat bottomed pan I pressed the dough between two sheets of wax paper to about 1/2 inch thick.
I cooked the arepas in a skillet for about 5 minutes on each side.
There was enough dough for only two arepas, so for the small amount of filling needed I sautéed a quarter of a finely chopped small onion, to which I added shredded yellow squash, followed by precooked mixed greens (Swiss chard, beet greens and kale). When the veggies were cooked and hot I mixed in a dollop of goat cheese.
The arepas, fresh out of the pan, were hot and crispy on the outside and steaming-hot and creamy on the inside, so my formerly calloused hands had to carefully cut them open to form a pocket and stuff them with the filling.
I was so impressed with the first experience with arepas that I made them again this morning using the yellow harina precocida (precooked flour).
This time for the filling I sautéed onion, red ripe jalapeños and whole cumin seeds.
There was a chunk of tofu left unused from another dish, and since it would be crumbled anyway, rather than take the time to press it I wrapped cheesecloth around it and squeezed out as much moisture as I could with my hands. I did the same with shredded yellow squash.
The squeezed tofu and squash were added to the sautéed onions and jalapeños.
The vegetable stuffing mixture was kept hot on the warming element until the arepas were finished cooking, and chopped cilantro was mixed in just before stuffing them.
Man, these things were good! Since the red jalapeños didn’t add any heat a little hot sauce was in order.
Faye commented on how well the pockets hold together, so I asked her how she thought they would do with a scoop of ice cream. She replied, “That would be GOOD!”
Stay tuned for arepa ice cream cones… Inevitable, I tell you!