The arepa is a Colombian staple. It’s what represents the country aside from coffee. Different varieties of this corn cake abound from Bogota’s white, round, and flat version to the Carribean coast’s thick, fried take stuffed with egg, known as Arepa e’Huevo, and the sweet-yellow corn cake known as Arepa de Choclo. All are delicious and a big part of the Colombian diet.
Today, arepas are commonly found in Colombian bakeries and in the frozen food section of most Hispanic food markets. The frozen arepas are crisped in less than 15 minutes on a hot griddle pan and enjoyed for breakfast, as a snack, or even for dinner with a side of carne asada or soup. Personally, I purchase a pack weekly, enjoying them for breakfast with a side of hot chocolate, which is the traditional way to eat them in Bogota. My grandmother’s arepas with hot chocolate and huevos pericos, scrambled eggs with scallions and tomatoes, make me the happiest. Abuela would use a package of pre-cooked white cornmeal, such as Masarepa or P.A.N., salt, and hot water to create the dough. But her secret for fluffy, smooth, and flavorful arepas was simply adding ricotta cheese to the mixture; an ingredient that really makes a difference.
The arepa below can be grilled, baked, or even fried, and while this recipe isn’t traditional, it will surely take your tastebuds on a journey to Colombia. Enjoy with a helping of fresh white cheese and scrambled eggs for breakfast, with hogao or guacamole as a snack, or with meat for dinner. Leftover dough can be stored in the fridge, covered with a damp paper towel in a tight sealed container, for up to 3 days.