Arepa is a flatbread made of ground maize dough or cooked flour prominent in the cuisine of Colombia and Venezuela. It is eaten daily in those countries and can be served with various accompaniments such as cheese
, jelly or jam, or split and used to make sandwiches. Various sizes, maize
types, and added ingredients are used to vary its preparation. It is similar in shape to the Mexican gordita and the Salvadoran pupusa. Arepas can also be found in Panama, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and the Canary Islands.
The arepa is a flat, round, unleavened patty made of soaked, ground kernels of maize, or more frequently nowadays maizemeal
or maize flour which can be grilled, baked, fried, boiled or steamed, etc. The characteristics vary by color, flavor, size, and the food with which it may be stuffed, depending on the region. Arepa is a native sort of bread made of ground maize (or flour), water
, and salt
which is fried or grilled into a thick bread. It can be topped or filled with meat
, salad, cheese, shrimp, or fish depending on the meal. Breakfast egg or cheese are the most common arepa fillings. There are several recipes for fillings.
The dough can be prepared two ways. The traditional, labor-intensive method requires the maize grains to be soaked, then peeled and ground in a large mortar known as a pilón. The pounding removes the pericarp and the seed germ, as only the endosperm of the maize seed is used to make the dough. The resulting mixture, known as mortared maize, or maíz pilado, was normally sold as dry grain to be boiled and ground into dough.
The most popular method today
is to buy cooked arepa maizemeal or flour. The flour is mixed with water and salt, and occasionally oil
, eggs, and/or milk
. Because the flour is already cooked, the blend forms into patties easily. After being kneaded and formed, the patties are fried, grilled, or baked. This production of maize is unusual for not using the nixtamalization, or alkali cooking process, to remove the pericarp of the maize kernels. Arepa flour is lower in nutritive value than nixtamal, with its niacin value reduced by half.