This recipe brings me way back to when I was around 5 or 6 years old, and my grandmother (who insists on not being called “grandma”, therefore she has always been my “mamy Lucy”) used to make arepas that were white, deep-fried and had a distinct hole that she would make in them by piercing the masa so she could flip them over. They would also puff up when cooked in the oil, and the memory of that brings such nostalgia!
Arepas are a traditional corn griddle cake that is eaten in Colombia and Venezuela. Though my mother’s side of the family is from Colombia, Mamy Lucy told me she always used “La Venezolana” masa. I happened to use the Goya brand (which is kosher, OU) Arepas can be deep-fried, pan-fried on a griddle pan, topped with an array of foods and also split and filled. They really are so versatile!
I added the aromatic saffron threads to my arepas, which adds a subtle floral note; and works well with the corn flavor of the masa. The feta cheese adds a much needed saltiness and creaminess to this crunchy griddle cake. I added a fried egg, because a fried eggs (and the obligatory runny yolk) make everything amazing. Get creative and make this for breakfast, lunch or dinner! (tag me on social media!)
- 2 cups Goya’s “Masarepa” (pre-cooked yellow corn meal) Regular corn meal will not work.
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon saffron strands
- Feta cheese, for serving (as much as you like)
- 3 cups warm water
- Butter for grilling (anything works here, margarine, olive oil, coconut oil)
- Mix the arepa masa with the water, and the salt, pepper and saffron. Mix until combined and allow to stand for 5 minutes, or until firmed up and most water has been absorbed.
- Meanwhile, heat your griddle or large saute pan and start forming the arepas, approximately the size of your hand.
- Add butter to the pan and drop the arepas. Cook on moderate heat, adding more fat if necessary. Allow to get golden brown and crispy on the one side and you should easily be able to place your spatula under it to flip. Once golden on the other side, it should be ready. They should slide on the griddle or saute pan freely (that’s how you know they are completely crispy)
- Once done, serve immediately and top with as much feta cheese as you like. Add a fried egg if desired (highly recommended)