Updated: Jan 6, 2020
"Arepitas de manteca pa' mama que da la teta...."
The song is as traditional in Venezuela as arepas are. Here are simple steps to make your own arepas at home:
Ingredients for the Arepas
1. 1 cup of Goya Harina Pan (Find this white corn meal at HEB or Fiesta in the international food aisle.)
2. 1 ¼ cup of water
3. Salt to taste
4. 1 egg (mixed with the water)
5. Cheese (shredded or grated—any cheese of your preference)
6. 1.5 cups of cooking oil (for fried arepas)
Preparing the Arepas
1. In a bowl, add the Harina Pan and salt then mix well. If you are using cheese, add it now.
2. Add the water (or egg mixed with water) and mix just like we pretend to do in class while singing the song.
I recommend starting with small quantities until you find your ideal ratio of water and flour. We all like it a bit different. More water makes softer arepas, and stickier hands!
Your hands will get covered in the sticky dough until the ingredients start to blend together.
Dissolve any little bumps of flour and make sure it’s all well mixed. If the dough is too hard, and/or if you see cracks, add a TINY bit of water, a few drops will go a looong way! The dough should be soft but able to hold its shape.
3. Make a ball a bit smaller than the palm of your hand, and then shape it into a flat circle like we do in class when we sing, "Arepita de manteca..." You can make it as flat or thick as you'd like. For the first few times, I recommend making them about ¾ in. thick (2 cm) so you can later open them up and stuff them.
You now have several options to cook them; the 2 easiest types of arepas to make are grilled or fried. Below are instructions for both:
Option 1: Grilled Arepas
1. To make grilled arepas, bring a grilling pan to medium heat, grease lightly with oil or butter and place the arepas on top.
2. Let them cook for about 5 to 7 minutes and then turn them over. If they stick to the pan when you are turning them over it means they haven’t been cooked enough to be turned over yet. When they are ready, you will see the classic black or brownish lines that our props have in class (or a circle if the pan you used doesn’t have lines).
Option 2: Fried Arepas
1. To fry them, heat up your preferred oil in a pan. Add enough oil to almost completely cover your arepas. Heat the oil on medium high and wait until it is very hot before carefully placing the arepas inside.
2. Let them fry for about 3 minutes and then turn them over. They will be lightly golden when ready (like the ones you tasted in class this week).
(Tip: kids love tiny arepitas!)
3. Take them out of the oil and place on a paper towel or dripping rack.
4. Let your arepas cool until you are able to touch them without burning your fingers. Take one arepa and open it as a pocket from one side. Do not open the whole arepa because your fillings will drip down.
5. Fill your arepas with your favorite dish. Fill them with ham and cheese, eggs and bacon, seasoned shredded beef, avocado, lettuce or chicken salad. Go ahead and experiment and enjoy this great traditional Venezuelan dish.
Little Tips for Children
Make tiny versions of your arepas – arepitas.
Add a tiny bit of sugar to the dough mix when making fried arepas to avoid the bitter aftertaste of fried food.
When making your arepas, place a chunk of cheese inside the ball of dough and cook the arepas with the cheese inside. It will be a fun and tasty surprise for the arepitas.
Let me know how it went, any variations you came up with, or any other recipes you'd like me to share. Comment below :)