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What is the difference between Mexican masa harina, cornmeal like we get in the US, and masarepa (as Goya calls their product)? Do I need to seek out masarepa which is only available at a couple stores, or can I just buy one of the readily available other two.

btw, any recipes you especially like? I have Lambert-Ortiz's book Latin American Cooking which seems pretty good overall, though a little light on explanations, etc, now and then. But the recipe for cachapas is the best one I've found so far Allows them to be thin if you spread them out, somewhere between a crepe and pancake, so that you can wrap them around all kinds of fillings. Yum.

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I think the difference is that masa harina is finely ground, raw hominy, whereas masarepa is pre-cooked fine cornmeal. I'm not sure you could substitute one for the other.

I use masarepa (Goya or whatever brand is cheaper, actually) for arepas. It's so easy to use: mix 1 cup of the flour with 1-1/2 cups of warm water and some salt; let the dough sit an hour or so; form into patties and fry in a little butter. I usually add cheese to the dough as I mix it; feta or grated romano are especially good. Otherwise the arepas are too bland. I don't stuff them, but serve them alongside other foods like a piece of bread. They'd be good split and stuffed, though.

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My ex-husband (a Venezuelan) used something called "arepa pan." I don't remember the brand name, but it was in a yellow bag with red and blue stripes, like the flag of Venezuela (and Columbia). Actually, it may have been a Columbia product. Anyway, he made them just like Suzanne F, and boy is she right. Add some grated cheese or they are very bland indeed.

We usually had them on weekend mornings with ham and cheese (more cheese, please) stuffed inside. Oh, and dripping with butter...

I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.

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I was reading an old book on Latin American cooking the other day and the lady really trashed arepas. She was amazed that even non-peasants eat them. I guess they're really the equivalent of a cooked gruel for Anglos.

Reading through Ortiz and another book (Kajic or someone like that), it sounds like one of the best things is to either griddle and then fry them, like you do with lots of Mexican antojitos, or split them and pull out the innards and then fill them with other stuff. Both authors liked cremas as a stuffing/filling, or sour cream, or a cream cheese cut with cream.

I imagine they're pretty versatile though as anything from dumplings to mops for sauces.

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First of all are we talking about the small white arepas or the larger yellow, sweet corn arepas, or "arepa dulce".

I LOVE arepa dulce, especially griddled. The white hockey puck ones with no flavor at all suck.

Theres a colombian luncheonette near us that makes the sweet ones, those are fantastic.

The Outlaw Cook has a few things to say about them:



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I meant the little white hockey pucks. Mine taste better than that, though, between the cheese and the frying in butter. Mmmm, butter. Mmmm, cheese. :biggrin:

I've only ever had arepas dulces at street fairs, where of course they are disgusting.

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I was truly talking about the hockey pucks, but definitely interested in the yellow corn version as well. I imagine they're a lot more like cachapas, whereas the white are more like thick Mexican antojitos such as sopes and huaraches. I'm sure both have their place. If you haven't made or eaten cachapas, you're really missing out. Here's Ortiz's recipe (modified to make it a little better, I think):

1 3/4 C fresh corn kernels

1/2 C heavy cream

1 egg

1/2 t sugar

1/2 t salt

2 T flour

Heat a cast iron or heavy skillet or comal on medium to medium low heat. Puree 1 1/2 C of the corn, the cream, the egg, the sugar, and the salt until mostly smooth. Lightly whisk in the flour until just combined. Fold in the remaining corn kernels. For better results, let it rest in a refrigerator for 30 minutes. Pour maybe 1/2 cup of the mixture onto the skillet and use a spoon to spread the mixture in a circular pattern to create a uniform and relatively thin disc of the batter. (If the spreading of the batter causes empty spaces to begin to form in the pancake it's too thin.) Cook like you would a pancake until bubbles form throughout the cachapa, dry, and burst forming little holes. When the top of the pancake has started to set through the entire cachapa, flip and cook until lightly browned on the other side. It will probably take about 6 minute on the first side and 2 minutes on the second side, depending on the heat of your pan.

It's a nice, sweet, and moist pancake somewhere between a crepe and a traditional wheat flour pancake. It's good with a nice crema, like sour cream or crema mexicana, or a softened cream cheese. It's also good with seasoned black beans and cotija cheese. My favorite so far is probably when I make them with a spicy, smoky meat stew like tinga. Add a little crema in there. Yum. I'm mixing cuisines with some of this, but it's damned good.

There's a breakfast place in Dallas that does a great job if you ever get a chance. It's pan-Latin bakery and breakfast place called Zaguan bakery. They do their churros small and GBD just like in Mexico City. They have lots of fresh juices and Mexican style hot chocolate. I think they do arepas along with cachapas and have a variety of fillings.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My wife is Venezuelan and we spend a few weeks a year there. Basilgirl wrote "My ex-husband (a Venezuelan) used something called 'arepa pan.'" It is actually called "arina pan" and is available in many colombian bodegas.

Suzanne F's recipe is right on and makes very good hockey pucks.

In Venezuela arepa's are stuffed with so many different fillings that I can't even think of them all. My favorite for breakfast is ham and cheese, other wise I like shredded beef and a side of black beans. My wife, a vegetarian, likes "yellow cheese" or an other stinky cheese called "queso a mano". It is not the flavor (or lack there of) of the arepa itself but the fillings used that make them so good.

Although arepas are really cheap "peasant food" they are a staple in most Venezuelan homes, rich or poor. My wife's family is arepa crazy; the last time they were in NY they even gave me a "toasty areap", like a counter top sandwich press, it is a griddle with four arepa sized indents.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Finally picked up some of Goya's masarepa, both yellow and white, and made my first arepas. I like them. Made the basic variety, not arepas dulces. For both, I just used 3:2 ratio of hot water to masarepa, plus a little salt. I let that sit in a covered bowl for a little bit, only 10 minutes was necessary, while it hydrated. When I put the water in initially it was like polenta consistency. Afterwards, it was more like a grainy mashed potatoes.

I made balls which I flattened to about 1/4". I griddled those on a comal until speckled lightly brown on each side. It was essentially like making sopes in Mexican cooking.

The white ones I then fried in lard. The yellow ones I served as they were. They were moist, but not mushy, on the inside and crisped on the outside. I served the white ones with a sautee of black beans, carmelized plantains, onions, and garlic seasoned with cumin, coriander, and all spice. Sort of Caribbean flavors. It's what I had in the pantry. I topped it with sour cream.

The yellow ones I served with a braise of onions, garlic, diced carrots, poblano chile, tomatoes, tomato juice, and duck/chicken stock and pork shoulder all seasoned with bay, cumin, and coriander (seed). I also simmered the braise with two seeded guajillo chiles which I pureed in the juice and mixed back in to thicken the liquid. Again this is what I had in the pantry (the tomatoes, eg, were canned). Also, again I topped it with sour cream.

I like them. I wouldn't refer to them as hockey pucks, but maybe mine weren't as dry and hard as they sometimes are. They're clearly distinct from corn-based flatbreads made with Mexican masa. And they're clearly distinct from corn-based flatbreads made from cornmeal (such as johnny cakes). I like them. I look forward to trying the sweet variety.

Thanks for the help.

Edited by ExtraMSG (log)
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  • 2 months later...

In the Dominican they have things they call arepas that are different from what you all are talking about. Basically they grate raw yuca, add egg, grated onion, salt & pepper, shape into patties and deep fry until golden. They're served like tostones -- as a starchy side to fish and meat dishes. My wifes mom say's that she rembers having them flavored with anis seed when she was a kid.

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  • 3 years later...

When I was visiting with friends in Venezuela, I love thes arepas (big flat pan-fried ones and littler rounder deep-fried ones both).

One day we stopped for something I think was called cachapas con queso mano.

Fresh tangy cheese, layered with corn cakes similar but not identical to the pan-fried arepas. My friends apologized for the 'peasant food', but I'm a peasant from way back. I enjoyed them thoroughly.

Has anyone else any familiarity with these? I'd love to recreate this meal.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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  • 3 months later...

Let's get the facts straight.... Venezuelan Arepas are made with the white Harina Pan. That is Harina with an 'H' I got the bag in front of me. Harina Pan is sold in North America by Goya and is avaialble in both white and Yellow Varieties. No self respecting Venezuelan serves the yellow. The recipe is on the side, simple to make, 2 and a half cups warm water to 2 cups Masa Harina with a bit of salt. I add a knob of butter to the warm water, it makes the dough a bit less sticky when handling it.

You sprinkle the Masa like rain into the warm water while stirring vigorously. Otherwise you get lumps. The dough is ready to handle within a few minutes. If you let is sit for an hour it is firm like polenta, and will not yield easily when making the arepas. Divide the dough evenly into 8 portions if making the full batch and 4 if halved. Once you start making arepas regularly, you don't need to portion the dough, as you will be able to do it by eye. Wet hands make smooth Arepas. Likewise the added watter makes a crisper outside. Which is a very desired characteristic of a well made arepa.

There are 2 ways to make your arepa, you can go the high cal route and fry them in oil or butter. or you can bake them. If you bake them, you should first place them in a comal, or cast iron fry pan with no oil and heat over med-high until there is a slight browning on the surfaces that are touching the pan. Once darkened on both sides, place them into a 350 degree oven. No need for a pan, just place them on clean racks, and bake them... How long? well this I can not tell you, you will know your arepa is ready when you take it out of the oven and tap it, and it goes tink-tink, rather than tunk-tunk. It is aproximantely 15 minutes. For practice listen to the arepa before you bake it, and cook until you hear the distinct change in sound. Trust me, I have made thousands of Arepas this way. ... then my brother in law sent me an Oster Toasty Arepa from Caracas. At this point I got very lazy.

If you use the Toasty Arepa maker, use a bit of oil on the surfaces of the maker from time to time to keep it in shape. Never use a metal instrument to move your Arepa as it WILL scratch when hot.

Typical fillings for Arepas include the ever so traditional Queso de Mano and Jamon. Other good fillings include:

Queso Blanco

Carne Mechada (spelling) - shredded beef

Tuna Salad

Natilla (Venezuelan style, not the columbian dessert) - This is savory and has the consistency of Creme Faiche, but tasates like a cross between sour cream and Cream cheese. Very good with the Fried Arepas.

or my Favorite. Arepa Riena Pepiada (excuse my spelling I am a Gringo), This is a chicken salad with Avocado.

Serve any of these along side a bowl of black beans and you got a brunch that will hold you through to dinner.

if anyone knows where to get Queso de Mano, or authentic Natilla in Canada or the North East US, let me know by PM. I miss it, and refuse to go back to the republic of Chavez for a fix. Too darn dangerous these days for us gringos.

Edited by fedelst (log)

Veni. Vidi. Voro.

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  • 1 year later...
  • 1 year later...

In Ecuador, no self-respecting chef will serve white Arepas - interesting to see the change as you cross the Andes! Here, we use gold precooked cornmeal (Harina de Arepas, literally "Arepa Flour" or Masarepa - the most popular brand is called Doñarepa) and allow it a 2-hour rest before forming small patties stuffed with queso fresco and diced green onions. This is fried in very little oil on large copper pans. Arepas done this way are one of my all-time favourite street foods, and I eat them every chance I get (although I'm usually too lazy to make my own!)

Fedelst, here's hoping this doesn't come too late. You can make your own Queso de Mano (or Queso Fresco) quite easily if you're not averse to a little work. The best recipe I've made calls for 1 pint of heavy cream (nata) in 1 gallon of whole milk. This is scalded and then removed from the heat, and white vinegar is added by the tablespoonfull until curds start to form. The curds are drained, salted fairly heavily, and pressed into a cheese form, where they're allowed to drip for another hour or so. Hecho!

Edited by Panaderia Canadiense (log)

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 2 years later...

Wow! That was truly heartwarming! So lovely to see the 'natives' gradual change of attitude--180 degrees. I'll bet they're still talking about it to this day. Thank you.


A wonderful bird is the pelican.

His beak can hold more than his bellican!

He can hold in his beak/enough food for a week

And I don't know how the hellican!

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