I had my first arepa from a cart at Bonnaroo, and after 4 days of subsisting on trail mix and only sort of showering, I thought the corn cake was transcendental. Away from music festival land, I am pleased to say these dudes still totally deliver.
**A note on flour: Pre-cooked corn flour is what works the best here, to achieve the level of fluffiness that's ideal for an arepa. If regular corn flour is all you can find, use it! The result will be heavier and cakier than the alternative, but still great; just stack the ingredients on top, as this type will crumble if you try to slit it open. ** —Kendra Vaculin
6 to 8 arepas
For the arepas:
masarepa, P.A.N. harina blanca, or any other pre-cooked corn meal or corn flour. (See note above.)
2 1/2 cups
Pinch of salt
Vegetable oil for frying
For the fillings:
can of black beans, drained and rinsed (or 1 1/2 cups cooked)
clove garlic, minced
plantains, either cut into rounds or cut into half width-wise and then into 1⁄4-inch strips
More vegetable oil
ripe avocado, chopped
small onion, diced (I like yellow but you do you)
Mix arepa ingredients until combined. Allow to sit for at least 15 minutes to incorporate.
While dough is resting, make the plantains, beans, and guacamole. Heat a very small layer of oil in a large pan over medium heat. Fry the plantains, sprinkling one side with a little salt, until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.
Dump out all but a tiny bit of the frying oil. Mix in the beans, cumin, garlic, and salt and pepper, and heat through. Then remove mixture from pan.
Mash guacamole ingredients together in a bowl and set aside. Alternatively, blend them together in a blender, substituting 2 tablespoons white vinegar for the lime juice, adding another handful of cilantro and 2 tablespoons of olive oil at the end. This is more guasacaca style than guacamole, more runny than dollop-y. What do you feel like? Either way it’s still avocado sauce -- I mean come on, you’re going to propose marriage to it.
Heat oil over medium in the same large pan -- not a ton of oil, this isn’t a deep or even a shallow fry -- enough to just wet the bottom of the pan. I used a paper towel to achieve this. Scoop out small handfuls of dough, patting them together to form 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick disks, with no cracks or creases. Fit as many as you can in the pan, and cook until the bottoms start to change color. Flip, and cook on the other side until slightly golden, and a bit springy to the touch.
Slice the arepa open from the side to stuff it, or lay it down on a plate to pile things on top of if you’re lazy or uncoordinated. Fill (or top) with a scoop of black beans, a few strips (or rounds) of fried plantain, and a bunch of sauce. Consider moving to Venezuela
and never coming back.