I know a very nice guy who grew up in South America, on the streets of Caracas, but lives in Europe for around 8 years now. He is extremely cheerful, very much loves Japanese culture and Ghibli movies – Totoro!! -, likes climbing in his free time, and knows more about smartphones than anyone else around me. Sometime last year he made me and others friends try some real Venezuelan rum, which tasted incredible – so already back then I had the feeling that these Venezuelans know something. Today this was proven: this great guy, Alan, made a simple, typical, tasty Venezuelan meal for us. Seriously, even if you are the worst cook, there is just no way to mess this one up. Let me present to you the arepa!
As you see, there are hardly any ingredients used, BUT it’s crucial to get this one specific type of maize flour to reach the desired outcome – in our city of Groningen you can get it in the big Asian store.
So, grab a bowl and put around two glasses of water in it and a pinch of salt. Start adding the flour and keep kneading the dollop until it becomes a consistent dough. It shouldn’t be too sticky or too liquid. Heat up a pan with some oil or butter in it. It’s really worth mentioning that when I put olive oil in the pan, Alan got greatly disappointed, because it’s too healthy and doesn’t fit the meal! So use sunflower oil or butter, people! Next, put a few drops of water on your hands and grab a handful of dough. Make a ball out of it, then press it so it gets just as slim as you can still cut it in half.
No need to use up all the dough because you can keep it in the fridge for a couple of days. Put these flat pieces in the pan, fry for a few minutes on both sides until they get golden brown. When ready, cut them in half, stuff ham and cheese, maybe some butter, in them. Next… there is no next, this is it, you’re done! See how simple?
This is clearly the most basic way of making this Venezuelan meal, but it can also be stuffed with minced meat, chicken or avocado – although then it’s not “the real” arepa anymore. You usually have this common South American meal for breakfast or lunch – Alan used to have it almost everyday, that’s why he could make it so delicious.
Hopefully all of you will enjoy some arepa the coming days, I will do so for sure – a piece of dough is still waiting in my fridge to be prepared. Thank you for cooking, Alan!