I came across arepas at just the right moment. I started becoming interested in non-Mexican Latin American food through a coworker, who introduced me to Bolivian and Peruvian during trips to my data center in Northern Virginia. I’d been testing the waters in the Cincinnati area. Then, a post on a food blog introduced me to how to make arepas, a corn meal staple of Venezuelan cuisine. A trip to Jungle Jim’s got me the raw material, and started making something good. Trips to Venezuelan restaurants in Indianapolis and Columbus confirmed I was on the right track.
It took me a while to find what to fill it with. The same food blog had a recipe for La Reina Pepiada–the Peppered Queen. It’s a quick thing to make–usually, I can make it and a batch of arepas in about half an hour. It has become a favorite of mine and my wife’s. However, I did tweak the recipe a bit, to make it a bit healthier, and a bit more to our tastes. I won’t claim it to be authentic; just yummy.
1 cup shredded cooked chicken
1 ripe avocado
1 tablespoon diced onion
½ diced red pepper
¼ cup chopped cilantro
4 tablespoons plain yogurt
Peel and chop the avocado. Mix the chicken, avocado, onion, red pepper, yogurt, and cilantro in a bowl. Mix, then mash with a potato masher or a fork (usually, I wind up mixing it again after mashing, to ensure proper distribution of ingredients). Serve on an arepa.