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Friday 18 September 2015

Recipe: Arepas

Just recently I’ve been getting into my street food, London has a vibrant street food scene, Camden, Street Feast (various), Portobello road, the list is endless. I’ve I’ve tried in one form or another most of the offerings so it’s nice to try something new. 

Now this can be a risk, a lot of people like the familiar, burger, fried chicken, pizza, curry, safety init. Arepas were something I’d not tried and so when I saw a stand offering them I went in! First at mini feast in Shepherds Bush then again at Camden. Both times I got a pretty respectable bite to eat, so you can imagine my delight when I was offered one for breakfast on Saturday morning! I took the opportunity to learn how to make them taught by a cute Venezuelan teacher by the name of Valentina!

So with me and her boyfriend as sous chefs we cracked on!

Worth noting: The important thing is that you’ve got to eat them fresh, soon as they’re ready. The dough will keep in the fridge so you can keep what you don’t use for later.

Make sure they’re crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle. Don’t make them too thick (more than half centimetre) or they’ll be a bit too stodgy in the middle!

This isn’t a purist recipe, I just watched, took notes and learned how to make some great food courtesy of Venezuela.

ingredients (serves 5 - 2 each)
for the arepas
650g coarse grain maize meal (pre-cooked)
750ml water
30ml vegetable oil
5g salt (lightly salted)

for the avocado chicken
1 onion
1 clove garlic
2 avocado
400g roast chicken
2 tbsp mayo

for the tuna (NB tuna is an endangered species -  best to stick to sustainable fish)
200g tuna
1 tbsp veg oil

for the scrambled eggs
1 onion (fine chopped)
2 tomatoes
2 eggs (whites only)

for the refried beans (quick style - original style)
1 onion (medium dice)
30g butter
250g black beans (1 tin, drained)

for the cheese
8 slices cheese (gouda, or emental, whatever you prefer)
some soft cheese ([p something])

for the garnish
Some spring onions, chopped chives if you like.

Couldn’t be easier, mix the corn flour and the water and the veg oil and a little salt until they make a “smooth masa” (a kind of dough mix), not sure I’d call it a dough. It's a kind of mash potato consistency.

Let it sit and soak up the water while you (or your sous chefs / helpers) make the rest of the fillings.
Once all the fillings are ready get a large frying pan or two, and run them up to “half fire”, take a handful of dough, bit bigger than a ping pong ball and flatten it in your hands and place it into the pan. 

Repeat until you fill the pans with flat breads.
Now it’s a patience game: cook 15mins, turning once. 

avocado chicken

Cut the avocado in half around the length. Twist it around the stone to separate the two halves.
To remove the stone using a heavy blade, hit the stone so the blade sticks into the stone then turn the blade to rotate the stone and remove it - it will be stuck to the knife!

Use the knife to cut a criss cross into the flesh, then scoop the contents out of he skin.
Tear the roast chicken into shreds and mix with the avocado pieces, and a touch of seasoning.
Add the mayo and mash it up with a potato masher.
Thats basically ready!

Empty tin, add a little oil (if it’s brined) and a squeeze of lemon, mix. Or instead of eating endangered species, you could use, flaked river cobbler, pollock, or sardines instead of tuna.

scrambled eggs
OK, so new one on me, sweat off the onions with a little oil, add a touch of butter, let it melt and add the chopped tomato, cook it out a little, then add the egg whites and mix them through until they’re cooked.

refried beans (short cut)
No excuses here, these aren’t classic refried beans but they do have the same flavour profile, with a different texture, no shame. Fry off some onions, add a little seasoning and the drained beans, leave on a low heat until everything else is ready.

what could go wrong? (notes)
You could get some uptight type giving you grief about the refried beans!

to serve
Put all the ingredients on the table, and let folk assemble what ever they fancy, take what you want to make your own crispy outer and beautifully filled arepa.

R E S U L T !!

Yeah . . . I know!! ; )
Pulled pork is popular at the moment, maybe corn and ndugya, there’s plenty of scope!

That evening I made us a paella mixta with is always great the next day, some arepa dough and leftover paella & lettuce filling!! : )

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