Arepas are a traditional masa cake, tracing their roots to Venezuela/Columbia. They are made from a dried corn flour, which distinguishes them from the flour used in tortillas, which is masa harina (a flour made from corn treated with soda ash or lye to make hominy). Just recently I saw arepas made using ground hominy mixed with cheese; a form of arepa indigenous to a particular area of Columbia. So as not to confuse the issue further, you can get masa arepa through Amazon, as it’s not carried by most supermarkets unless they have an extremely robust Hispanic foods section, or cater primarily to a Hispanic population. NOTE: Arepas are made from corn, and are inherently gluten free.
2 cups arepa flour
2 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and form a well in the center. Add the oil and a little water; using a wooden spoon, gradually pull the dry ingredients into the wet until fully incorporated and forms a ball, not too wet, but cohesive – let rest 5 minutes.
Knead the dough a few times in the bowl, then divide into 6-8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and flatten to approx. 1/2″.
Heat 1/8 – 1/4″ oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the arepas and cook until a light, golden brown around and a bit up the edges – approx. 6-8 minutes; turn and cook the other side.
Transfer to a rack to drain. Split and stuff, or just plate and top with desired topping.
Roasted root vegetables; pulled pork; roasted shrimp; sauteed vegetables; rajas (sliced, roasted peppers); queso fresco; Monterey jack cheese; combinations of any of these. You can also fill them with cheese before cooking by forming two cakes (each 1/2 desired final thickness), putting cheese on one and topping it with the other, and sealing the edges before cooking.