How to make Arepas

Arepas (ah-ray-pahs) are a corn pocket which can be found on many street corners in Venezuela. I first became familiar with them when I met Adriana Lopez Vermut from Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen at the Gluten-Free Spree in San Francisco in 2009. At the time, she only had a location in Napa’s Oxbow Market. Now, there are two other locations in San Francisco (Mission and Castro areas). Click on that link and scroll down to see exact locations. I wrote an article about Pica Pica as well.

She was recently featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives with Guy Fieri. He, like most people, was blown away by Pica Picas’ arepas. The flavors of the arepa fillings are really amazing. I believe he deemed them “outrageous”, possibly the highest triple D compliment one can receive.

A few years ago she invited me to come to her restaurant to make a special Family Chef recipe for the arepas. I chose a sweet potato and black bean-style chili which went very well with the crunchy on the outside-soft on the inside corn pocket. Watch the video here. I only made arepas once since then and decided recently I needed to try them again; practice makes perfect!

For the filling, I made a crock pot Latin-style chicken and served it with black beans, cilantro, avocado, red onion, and lime. My family loved it (especially the make-your-own part as we each like different fillings). They were delicious!

I’m going to try to make a pabellon style this weekend with a tomato-based skirt steak filling. Yes, I think about my meals 2 days in advance!

Well, here is my tutorial for you. I hope it helps to make you successful!

How to Make Arepas
Note: This is just an overview. For a recipe with amounts, visit Adriana’s blog.

1. Make the dough.

2. Make sure it’s the right texture.

3. Roll it into a ball first.

4. Shape into a flat circle or puck (watch the video to see a funny interaction with Adriana and I). Move from hand to hand and shape. If the dough is too wet, add more hair a pan. If its too dry, add a little water. It should not crack. Note: I make mine smaller than Adriana’s. Base it on your preference.

5. Seal on a griddle with oil just until light brown.

6. Bake in a 350F oven for about 10 minutes. This helps to cook the inside.

7. Serve with your favorite fillings!

I made a crock pot chicken, Latin-style, by adding diced tomatoes, garlic, oregano, cumin, and chili powder. Watch my video here for how I make a regular one.

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