Dining In: Venezuelan Arepas

This quick, versatile staple can be served plain or gussied up.

By Regina Schrambling

Arepas can be breakfast, lunch or a snack in Venezuela. They can be savory or sweet. And while they are readily found in cafés called areperas, they are also relatively easy to make. The dough takes about two minutes to throw together, and no kneading is required. All you need is a skillet or griddle.

The name arepa comes from the word for corn in an indigenous language spoken on the Venezuelan coast. In the past, cooks had to grind kernels by hand, but today you can buy something called masarepa in supermarkets in Venezuela (and in Latin food specialty stores in North America). It’s very fine and precooked, so you basically just need to add water (or milk).

Arepas could also be considered the Venezuelan pita, because they can be sliced open and stuffed. Shredded cooked beef and chicken salad are traditional fillings. The simplest topping for a warm arepa is butter and a slice or two of avocado. As with most things, sometimes simple is best.

Venezuelan Arepas

2 cups masarepa

1 tsp salt

2½ cups warm water

4 Tbsp melted butter, plus extra for frying

Combine the masarepa and salt in a bowl. Add the water and mix well. Add the butter and mix with your hands to make a stiff dough. Cover and set aside 5 minutes.

Divide the dough into 12 parts. Shape each into a ball, then flatten into a rounded cake about 3 inches across and half an inch thick. Use your fingertips to round the edges smooth if they start to crack.

Heat a large nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat. Add just enough butter to coat the pan, then fry the arepas until browned in spots and crisp, about 5 minutes on each side. Serve warm with butter and sliced avocado.

Makes 12.

STAY
RCI affiliated resorts in Venezuela include:
La Posada del Reino C164
This resort is close to the Musipán theme park. El Yaque Carr. Principal, Musipán El Reino, Sector Punta Carnero, Margarita Island
Hotel Lake Plaza 5478
In the middle of Porlamar’s casinos and nightclubs. Avenida Bolívar, Urbanización Dumar, Costa Azul, Porlamar
Best Western Margarita Dynasty 4391
Located less than a mile from Caracola Beach and a stone’s throw from Porlamar’s many shops and restaurants. Calle Los Uveros, Urbanización Costa Azul, Porlamar
For member reviews and additional resort listings, visit RCI.com or call 800-338-7777 (Weeks) or 877-968-7476 (Points). Club Members, please call your specific Club or RCI telephone number.

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Non-RCI affiliated resorts:
Posada La Cigala
Posada La Cigala, Los Roques National Park; 58-414-236-5721; lacigala.com; doubles from $140 a night*

Lidotel Hotel Boutique Margarita
Centro Sambil Margarita, Pampatar, Margarita Island; 58-295-260-2888; lidotel.com.ve; doubles from $129 a night
  • *Prices have been converted to U.S. dollars.
  • NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
  • Published: Summer 2014