If you’re craving Venezuela cuisine and cooking arepas at home is improbable, we’ll take this opportunity to shout out Yo También Cantina in San Francisco. Lady bosses, Isabella and Kenzie craft food that combines traditional flavors of Venezuelan and tropical cuisine with seasonal California ingredients, resulting in a vibrant cooking style that they have come to define as, tropical-local. Swing by and be delighted!
Arepas with Carnitas and Sweet Potato
2 cups precooked cornmeal (see notes)
2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 cups warm water
Oil for pan frying
Chipotle Shredded Chicken
Magic Green Sauce or other sauce
Sweet potatoes, sliced into thin pieces and sautéed in olive oil and salt
Red onions (pickled? yum)
Mix the precooked cornmeal and the salt. Add the water and whisk to remove any lumps, then stir until combined. Let the mixture rest for 5-10 minutes.
Using your hands, divide the dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and flatten in gently to create a disk, about 1 inch thick.
Heat a thin layer of oil (about 1/4 inch deep) in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the arepas and fry for about 6 minutes on both sides. The arepas should get a dry fried exterior without getting overly brown. Set on paper towels to drain and cool.
Cut the arepas in half and stuff with your fillings!
Precooked cornmeal is also called arepa flour or harina precocida or masarepa. I buy this kind on Amazon. This is not the same as masa harina which is uncooked. This version is COOKED which means you don’t need to bake it all the way through in the same way as you would with masa harina. I am not sure how substitutions would work – but from what I’ve read, the arepa flour really does get a better texture both inside and outside.
The texture of these is a little corn-cakey, so if the insides are a little sticky that’s okay and good.
Photo credit: Pinch of Yum