This recipe comes from the kitchen of Maya and her sister from another mister, Mariana who both currently live in Madrid. Arepas are originally from Venezuela and common in many parts of South America. The white corn flour required to make them can be found in Mexican markets in the US and in many markets in Spain and, of course, all over South America. If you’re not in one of these places, you may have to order it.
2 cups pre-cooked white corn flour
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 cans of black beans (450 grams)
2 Tbls olive oil
1 bunch of Cilantro
Your favorite white cheese.
Chop up your leek and onion. If you do not have a leek, one whole onion will work. Dribble olive oil in a pan and heat it up. Add onion and leek. Rip off about two handfuls of cilantro leaves and one chopped tomato. Toss them in. After a few minutes pour in your black beans. Make sure to drain them mostly but add in a teaspoon or two of the juice in which they are packed. Once this juice has evaporated, (some in the cooking world might say “reduced”) the filling is done.
Now it is time to construct the vehicle for this beany mischief. Fill a bowl with two cups of water and mix in one teaspoon of salt. With a sifter, mix in two cups of the corn flour and get your hands in there.
You cannot mix this with a spoon or the ghost of my mythical Venezuelan grandmother will haunt you. Knead the corn flour together with your hands. It should form a stiff dough.
Spread some butter on your hands. No, really, do it. Look I know it sounds weird and kinky but it really helps with the next part and it’s great for your skin. Grab a chunk of dough a little larger than a golf ball. Start to roll it like a top, with a spinning motion. When you’re done it will look like a top.
Flatten out your arepa attempting to avoid cracks. As your life coach, I encourage you in general, to avoid crack. You should now have a little white disk. Heat up a pan on medium high heat and pour a few tablespoons of oil into it. Place your flying-saucers in the pan.
While you are waiting for them to brown, why not prepare the toppings? Slice the avocado into, well, slices. Grate some cheese and rip out about two more handfuls of cilantro leaves. When the arepas sound hollow when you tap them, they are done. Caution: it takes time to cook them maybe 15 minutes on each side. If you cook them too hot they won’t get done in the middle.
When you pull them out, Slice them in half like an english muffin, butter the insides and apply you mischievous toppings. You can fill the arepas with just about anything. The first time I had them they had shredded beef, so be creative!
This final picture is kind of silly because there is a fork in it. Merely a formality, I assure you. Maya informed me post haste that you eat these puppies just like you make them, with your hands.
Until next time.