How is it that with our combined love for Latin food, neither of us had tried arepas until a few weeks back? It made no sense, whatsoever. They’re gluten free, crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside (a foodie’s dream). Adriana Lopez on PicaPica.com discusses how the Venezuelan arepa had it’s origins hundreds of years ago, and that it was a standard item cooked in the households of many indigenous tribes across the country. They’re like little puffy flatbreads of heaven! And trust us, we’ve tried quite the range of Latin foods, spanning throughout the Americas (Cuba, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Colombia, etc). So again, why had these pockets of heavenly goodness never been on our radar?

Arepas witth blackened salmon & tomato-basil relish. Dipping fork in!

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One food is not the other

The only reasons we could attribute to this unfortunate fact is that we had completely ignored them. When the owner of The Provincial (Latin American restaurant in Brixton, London) told us that they were made from maize (corn) flour, and not wheat flour, I realised that I’d seen the delicious round patties in various shops growing up, and later as an adult travelling to countries within central and Latin America. However, I always thought they were regular discs of wheat bread, which due to my pesky food allergies, I can’t eat. They are far from it!

Arepas con huevo (with an egg), arepas rumberas (known as the party arepa with pulled meat, etc.), arepas rellenas (with chillis), arepitas (tiny sized)….the options are endless! Even J. Kenji López-Alt (culinary director of Serious Eats) found himself awestruck at the endless possibilities when he traveled to Colombia:

Within the first three days alone, I sampled over a dozen different varieties of arepa(s)…

 

Arepas witth blackened salmon & tomato-basil relish. Closeup

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Your way, your discovery

After this discovery, and brief education, we can honestly say we are living on the island of arepas! I’ll make a batch on a Sunday, and they will (sometimes) last for the next five days. However, there is nothing like the taste of a fresh one! They can be deep fried or pan fried and put in the oven. I’ve tasted them both ways, and although there is nothing like the extra crispiness of a deep fried one, I much prefer to pan fry them with just a bit of oil, and then pop them in the oven to get cooked thoroughly. They can be eaten with anything. In this case, I added blackened salmon, and a tomato-basil relish, all topped over greens of choice.

Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, arepas always deliver. Pop a healthy dollop of your favourite jam, and you have a delicious breakfast alternative to toast. In short, explore, because the arepa is your oyster!

Arepas witth blackened salmon & tomato-basil relish. Deep fried arepa

 

Arepas with blackened salmon & tomato-basil relish shot from above
Arepas with Blackened Salmon, and Tomato-Basil Relish
Yum
Print Recipe
The arepas are the highlight of this recipe. From what I've been told, it could take you a few times to really get it right. Be prepared to get your hands messy!
Servings Prep Time
4 people 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
45 minutes 5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
45 minutes 5 minutes
Arepas with blackened salmon & tomato-basil relish shot from above
Arepas with Blackened Salmon, and Tomato-Basil Relish
Yum
Print Recipe
The arepas are the highlight of this recipe. From what I've been told, it could take you a few times to really get it right. Be prepared to get your hands messy!
Servings Prep Time
4 people 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
45 minutes 5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
45 minutes 5 minutes
Ingredients
Salmon
Tomato-Basil Relish
Servings: people
Instructions
Arepas
  1. Use your hands to do all the mixing. Pour lukewarm water into med-large mixing bowl. Add oil & salt, and gently mix around. With hand in the bowl of water, slowly pour the maize into the water. Use your hand to mix everything together, and help dissolve any lumps.
  2. Use both hands and begin to gently knead the dough. After kneading for about one minute, if the dough is too wet or gooey, add a bit more maize. If it seems too dry and grainy, add a tbsp of water. However, the exact measurements in the recipe should render a dough that is neither too wet or dry.
  3. Once the dough is completely mixed, and in one large lump, leave it to rest for 5 min (or so). Cover the bowl with a wet towel, so that the dough doesn't dry out. Use the wait time to prep and season your salmon.
  4. Section off dough into portions rough the size of a small fist. Pat those into round discs, between 1/4 - 1/2 an inch thick. The recipe should render 8-10 Arepas.
  5. Coat the bottom of a cast iron pan, non-stick pan, or griddle with a bit of olive oil, and turn on medium-low heat. Once heated, place arepas on the hot surface, to cook for 7 minutes or so, and flipping over when a healthy light-medium brown in colour. Cook on the other side for 7 minutes as well. *The key is slow heat!
  6. Once browned, put arepas on a cookie sheet, and place in pre-heated oven at 175 C/350 F. Bake for 15min, and then remove from oven. Slice open, slice in half, or eat plain and un-cut. They hold heat well, so if you're still working on the other recipe elements, They will stay hot/warm for at least ten minutes.
Salmon
  1. Prep your fresh or fully defrosted salmon fillets, while your arepa dough is resting. Massage lemon juice into fillets, and season with spices of choice, and let sit covered in cling film.
  2. Once arepas have been put in oven, pre-heat your oiled skillet (med), and place fillets skin down, and cook until skin becomes crispy. Turn on seasoned side, and cook until fish is done. This typically produces a black coating on the fish, due to the spices and lemon juice you've used. Remove from pan, and set aside. While fish is cooking, you can quickly mix up the tomato-basil relish
Tomato-Basil Relish
  1. Mix room temperature tomatoes, olive oil, and chopped basil together.
  2. Add minced garlic, apple cider vinegar, and lemon juice, and mix well. Add sea salt and pepper to taste. Set to the side
Presentation
  1. Place salad greens of choice on a plate, and halve your hot arepas
  2. Spread them out, and overlap them. Pull apart salmon, and place on top of arepas
  3. Top with tomato-basil relish, and serve! Enjoy!
Recipe Notes

Food allergies: Check that your PAN maize is gluten free. From what I found online, the company just recently certified it as gluten free, however, older versions are not gluten free, and could be cross contaminated. You can purchase it on ebay (U.S.), and on Amazon (U.K.).

Arepas with blackened salmon & tomato-basil relish by HDYTI

Arepas witth blackened salmon & tomato-basil relish

Arepas witth blackened salmon & tomato-basil relish

 

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